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Israeli television airs 30 percent less sexual content and over 80% less violence than major American networks, according to a study released this week by the Ariel University Center of Samaria.
The study, which was conducted by communications Prof. Amir Hetsroni, reveals that when it comes to explicit (full nudity) sex scenes, homosexual sex scenes and explicit sexual dialogue, Israeli TV shows more than American TV by roughly 20%. However, American television features more suggestive sex scenes.
To conduct the study, Hetsroni viewed 77 hours of American broadcasts and 55 hours of Israeli television, carefully marking and timing every kiss, fondle, gunshot and rape. His findings show that, perhaps contrary to common opinion, there is relatively little sex and violence on television in general and on Israeli television in particular.
According to the study, most of the sex displayed on Israeli commercial television (channels 2 and 10, which enjoy the highest viewership) is made up of “innocent and normative behavior – like kissing and fondling or discussions of a sexual nature,” and the display of full-nude sex acts is rare – one display for every five hours of broadcast. The study also found “zero frequency of non-normative sex acts, like anal sex, orgies, fetishes or sadomasochistic acts.”
On the violence side, the study found very low frequencies of violent acts, and none lasting longer than several seconds. In total, violent acts made up less than 30 seconds out of every hour of Israeli prime-time television broadcasts.
Hetsroni noted that news programs were not included in the statistics.
“It is not customary to use news shows in these kinds of studies, as their content changes according to the events that take place. For example, during coalition negotiations there will be very little violence, while in an event of a war or a terror attack, there will be a lot,” he said.
Hetsroni also found that Israeli television showed much less sex and violence than American television. He compared the content viewed during prime time on Israel’s channels 2 and 10 to the content found on the major American networks: FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS.
According to the study, American viewers get roughly 23 seconds of kissing for every hour of broadcast, compared to 3.7 seconds in Israel. Americans view 10 seconds of fondling per hour, compared to 4.5 seconds in Israel, and in general are exposed to 84 seconds of sex, sexual innuendo, talk of a sexual nature or nudity, compared to 57 seconds in Israel.
Violence is far more prevalent on American screens, making up 103 seconds of every hour and including threats of physical violence, acts of vandalism, bare-handed assault, assault with weapons, torture, kidnapping, rape, war, executions and intentional vehicle
slaughter. In Israel, by comparison, all the violent content makes up only 17.4 seconds.
Hetsroni explained that the relative shortage of sex and violence on
Israeli television was due to a combination of factors, including
viewers’ preferences, tight regulations, lack of daring on the part of
the creators, and a conservative viewing culture.
“Programmers of Channel 2 and Channel 10 are hesitant to air certain
material because they fear confrontations with the state regulators,
don’t want to offend conservative viewers and want to avoid angry
reactions from feminist and women’s organizations,” said Hetsroni.
When asked why he thought people believed Israeli television was full
of sex and violence when the facts showed differently, Hetsroni
responded that “it is possible that an exceptional program is
remembered by the viewers – because of its exceptionality – and creates
a wrong impression that Israel’s commercial television features more
sex and violence than it actually does.”