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Monday, November 22, 2004

"Values Voters" Still Like Their Sexy, Violent TV

Judging from the outcome of the past presidential election, Americans are yearning for more morally wholesome content from the media. But, according to TV executives, that's not showing up in the Nielsen ratings. The two hottest shows this season -- CBS's bloody C.S.I. and ABC's steamy Desperate Housewives -- top the ratings throughout the country, in "red" and "blue" states alike.

Indeed, what surprises many media observers is the uniformity of the ratings, and how the top shows are so consistent in most all media markets. Even in staunchly conservative Salt Lake City, Desperate Housewives is one of the top hits. And it's the number one show in Atlanta, in the heart of Bush country.

Conversely, shows like Joan of Arcadia with strong spiritual themes, have done poorly in the ratings... which isn't exactly encouraging networks to make more of them.

There is no overarching reason why this is the case. The fact that these racy and violent shows do so well in "red" areas shouldn't be a surprise given that despite the electoral map, political leanings don't break cleanly along geographical lines. Additionally, media watchers note that despite the occasional uproar over such transgressions as the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" or the more recent Desperate Housewives promo on Monday Night Football (which, they note, was repeated incessantly on news programs), television standards trend toward increasing permissiveness. Remember the Murphy Brown controversy in the early '90's when the main character had a child out of wedlock? Seems quaint, doesn't it?

Source: The New York Times