The TV Parental Guidelines apply to most television programs, including those directed specifically to young children. Some programming, such as sports and news, is not rated. In addition, most home shopping and religious programming does not include a rating.
Broadcast and cable networks rate thousands of hours of TV programming every day. Program producers, broadcast and cable networks, broadcast stations, and syndicators expend significant resources reviewing and rating programs before they air and have employees dedicated to ensuring that programs are appropriately rated. In many cases, these employees are involved in every stage of a programís development, from script to final production, or for a licensed program that has aired previously on another network, throughout the editing process.
TV ratings are applied on an episode-by-episode basis. This can result in individual shows within a series carrying different ratings. Likewise, individual shows may be edited differently based on the time of day they air on a particular network, which can also result in one show having different ratings to reflect the specific version being aired. Furthermore, movies and television series may be edited differently depending on whether they are carried on a premium cable, basic cable or broadcast service. As a result, the movie or program may contain different content from service to service and thus may carry a different rating that is based on the specific content in that version. This approach ensures the most informative and accurate rating of each specific program, alerts parents to any atypical content that may appear in an individual episode or series, and allows them to block that episode based on its rating.
Today, the program ratings and content descriptors are familiar to TV viewers. The ratings icon and associated content descriptors appear for 15 seconds in the upper-left corner of the TV screen at the beginning of all rated programming. Over time, in response to concerns about the visibility of the on-screen ratings icon, programmers have increased the size and frequency of the icon. If the program is more than one hour in length, the icon will reappear at the beginning of the second hour. Many cable and broadcast networks also display the ratings icon after each commercial break to alert viewers of the TV rating throughout the program.