All About The TV Industry Ratings System In The USA & Canada

This section is presented as a public service to those still wondering about the ratings used for our TV shows, especially in light of the V-Chips now found in newer TV sets, as per federal laws in the USA and Canada.

The USA Ratings System:

Unveiled in 1996 and first implemented in January 1997, the USA ratings system is used to aid parents in deciding what shows should their children watch. Here's a chart explaining the ratings:

Symbol: Meaning: Definition: Example Shows:
[TV-Y] Recommended for all children; show is produced specifically for children only "Blue's Clues", "Dora the Explorer", "The Wonder Pets", "Go, Diego, Go", "The Backyardigans"
[TV-Y7] Recommended for children 7 years and older; produced specifically for children "The Mighty B!", "Back at the Barnyard", "Jimmy Neutron", "The Fairly OddParents", "SpongeBob SquarePants"
[TV-Y7 FV] Recommended for children 7 years and older; produced specifically for children "Randy Chunningham: 9th Grade Ninja", "Slugterra", "Avatar the Last Airbender", "Invader ZIM", "Power Rangers"
[TV-G] Recommended for children & adults of all ages "Fish Hooks", "Mickey Mouse", "Jeopardy!", "Wheel of Fortune", "The Ellen Degeneres Show"
[TV-PG] Recommended for children & adults of all ages; parental guidance recommended for younger children "Sanford and Son", "Good Times", "The Nanny", "Doctor Who", "Roseanne"
[TV-14] Recommended for people 14 years and over only "Two and a Half Men", "The Simpsons", "Family Guy", "Married With Children", "Everybody Loves Raymond"
[TV-MA] (Formerly [TV-M]) Recommended for adults only "South Park", "Jerry Springer", "Maury",  adult movies and shows on pay channels
(none) Exempt News and sports shows are not rated

Note: Some sports, like wrestling, are rated, but most sports are not.

Later in 1997, the ratings board revealed more specific ratings to be used in addition to [TV-PG][TV-14][TV-Y7] and [TV-MA], to be used to determine the following:

Letter: To Be Used For:
V Violence
S Sexual Content
L Offensive Language
D Suggestive Dialogue
FV Fantasy or Cartoon Violence

(used in addition to [TV-Y7])

The Canada Ratings System:

English television in Canada uses a similar system, devised by The Action Group on Violence on Television (AGVOT). Canada's ratings are similar to the US's ratings in broadness, grouping and the number of tiers; only the labels are different. These ratings are:

Symbol: Classification: Meaning:
Children Suitable for children
Children over 8 Suitable for children over 8
General Suitable for entire family
Parental Guidance Suitable for children over 11
Over 14 Suitable for those over 14
Over 18 Suitable for Adults Only (over 18)
(none) Exempt Exempt shows include news, sports, music videos, documentaries, public affairs, variety shows and talk shows.

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