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Violent TV breeds violent society, say Greens

Violent TV breeds violent society, say Greens

Green MP Sue Kedgley says a report on TV violence released today shows that New Zealand children are being exposed to some of the highest levels of TV violence in the world.

The Green Broadcasting spokesperson welcomed the Report on TV Violence, which was funded through a Green Budget initiative.

The report found that on average, eight episodes of violence are being screened during every hour of television programming. "That means approximately 481,800 episodes of violence are being screened each year on New Zealand television, much of it during so-called 'children's viewing times'," said Ms Kedgley.

"This is a shocking statistic. Clearly, violence pervades New Zealand television to such an extent that its constant presence and influence represents a public health threat, especially to young children."

Ms Kedgley said she was shocked by the report's findings that children's cartoons have the highest levels of violence of all programmes - an average of 18.7 incidents of violence an hour - and that there was more violence during afternoon 'children's viewing times' than during supposedly 'adults only' late night viewing.

"This is alarming, especially in light of the US Surgeon General's finding in a 2001 report on youth violence that continuing exposure to TV violence between the age of 6-11 is a more significant risk factor than broken homes, abusive parents, neglect and anti-social peers."

Ms Kedgley said the high levels of violence on TV2 - a state-owned channel that targets children and young people - and Sky's Nickelodeon cartoon channel were of real concern. "It appears that some of the cartoons our children are watching are little more than animated thuggery," she said.

Ms Kedgley says parents cannot be solely responsible for regulating and monitoring the content of television viewed by children. "All broadcasters, and especially our state broadcaster, must take responsibility for ensuring that our children are not exposed to potentially harmful television content, in the form of gratuitous and excessive violence."

"There is a growing level of anxiety in the community about how violent our society is becoming. If we are serious about trying to make New Zealand a more peaceful, less violent society, we must implement the report's many comprehensive and thoughtful recommendations as an urgent priority."

Ms Kedgley strongly supports the call for a new mandate for the Broadcasting Standards Authority, to address and monitor television violence. "The BSA needs to be given legislative teeth and the power to regulate to ensure that networks set and meet acceptable levels of violence," she said.

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