The TV violence issue made its way into French politics last fall when the French broadcast regulator Conseil Superieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) released results of a study that monitored children’s animation, movies, TV movies, series and mini-series.
During a week in April 1994, the CSA examined 194 shows, representing 109 hours and eight minutes on TF1, France 2, France 3 and M6 at family viewing hours.
The survey, which monitored instances of violence using U.S.-based standards, is the first time that French authorities have attempted to quantify violence in television programming.
The study found that in an average hour, 2.09 sequences containing murders occurred, while the number of other violent acts (injuries and aggressive behavior) amounted to 9.5.
According to the CSA’s findings, violence is particularly present in series, detective movies and action animation. And although cartoons do not contain as many scenes related to crime as live action, they convey most of the violence. In the channel breakdown, the CSA study shows that 70 percent of violent images air on private networks, and more than 40 percent of them were shows on M6, whose programming is mainly composed of series and movies.
The public networks (France 2 and France 3) were shown to have contributed to only 30 percent of the violence.
The study also shows that U.S. programs are responsible for 58 percent of violent sequences with programs like VR Troopers, Dragon Ball Z, Power Rangers and Batman, while only seven percent of the offending programs originated from France. Violence in U.S. programs was viewed as being repetitive and coming from protagonists, while European shows tended to use violence as an act from antagonists.
French broadcasters and producers have openly questioned the CSA’s findings. Nicolas de Tavernost, general manager of M6, even criticized the survey, arguing it was incomplete.
‘Even Peter Pan appears to be violent when Peter Pan is savagely mugged by Captain Hook,’ he says.
France 3, which has a policy promoting educational and non-violent programming, was quite surprised to have some of its programs cited.
The French production community is not overly concerned about the study.
Companies like C&D, France Animation, Procidis, and PMMP say the study will not change their approach to programming. Many feel that there are already sufficient checks in place.