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Thursday, May 6, 1999 Published at 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK


Viewers happier with TV standards

Complaints about sex and violence on TV have fallen and more viewers than ever say they have not seen anything offensive on TV, according to a national survey.

The findings are part of the Independent Television Commission's annual survey into the viewing habits of the nation.

For the first time viewers likes and dislikes in television advertising have also been analysed. The report also surveyed attitudes to television news as well as the nation's access to television and the Internet.

Actual complaints made to the ITC about sex and violence on TV fell last year by 47% and 24% respectively, but viewers are still still concerned about the amount of sex on TV. In March the ITC criticised ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 for showing too much sex.

In 1998 there was also a 26% increase in complaints about bad language on TV. But overall less than one third of viewers said they had seen something offensive on TV - the lowest figure since the annual survey began in 1970.

Most viewers said that standards in TV programmes are staying about the same, while just over 40% said that standards in general are getting worse.

Adverts are a laugh

Even though adverts interrupt TV programmes many people find them enjoyable and humorous.

The ITC found that nearly 40% said they were them funny with Scottish viewers in particular enjoying advertising jingles.

Much to the disappointment of the advertising industry, 10% of people surveyed liked adverts because they presented the prime opportunity to put the kettle on.

Overall more than 80% of people said they had not found any advert to be offensive, although viewers over the age of 45 were more likely to be offended.

The survey also found that Internet access in the home has increased to 8%, up from 5% in 1997 and 3% in 1996. But in richer households - in social grades A and B - Internet access is as high as 21%.

Digital TV a turn-off

The survey is bad news for the digital TV industry - only 4% of people polled said they would be 'very interested' in receiving digital TV at a cost of £200, while nearly 40% said they were 'not interested at all'.

But despite the lacklustre response to digital TV, one third of all respondents said they had access to multi-channel TV in their homes through cable or satellite.

Nearly 80% of those viewers said they resented paying more to watch a sports event or film on a pay-per-view basis.

Most people still turn to the TV to find out what is happening in the world. More than 70% of viewers said TV was their first choice for national news and 40% used it as their first port of call for local news too.

Newspapers fared badly with only 14% favouring papers first and 8% opting for radio.

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