Study says on-screen behavior may influence viewers

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Equal opportunity. Workplace diversity. ‘Chick’ jokes. Some things just are too sensitive to be funny.

Except when they’re tackled by prime-time TV comedy writers.

A new study says characters on popular TV shows like “30 Rock” and “The Office” are routinely violating ethics in the workplace, which may lead to “overexposing the real-life workforce to ethics and compliance violations that are funny only on the small screen.”

Global Compliance, a group that promotes ethical standards in large companies and organizations, found that “30 Rock” lead the pack with 11 ethical violations per episode, citing one episode where Alec Baldwin’s character comments that a “chick lawyer” who handles sexual harassment presentations is “asking for it.”

Paul Levinson, professor of Media Studies at New York’s Fordham University, tells KFWB 980’s Michael Shappee that it’s not just the funny shows that are testing the boundaries of what audiences are willing to embrace.

“Grey’s Anatomy” ranked second in violations with an average of seven per episode, including an incident in which Ellen Pompeo’s character discloses confidential patient data with an unauthorized party.

The study’s authors insist the rankings are not simply an exercise in political correctness.

“We were not looking to “crown” an ethics violation winner – or loser – and we are certainly not trying to “outlaw” funny,” according to a statement on the Global Compliance website.

“We need to find ways of keeping the laughs and the drama on TV while minimizing the impact of overexposing the real-life workforce to ethics and compliance violations that are funny only on the small screen,” the statement continues.

For complete results of the study, visit the Global Compliance website.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (3)
  1. g says:

    Relax. its a freeking T.V. show..Jiminey Crickets

  2. Chris says:

    These people remind me of how the KGB would evaluate the works of artists and musicians during the Cold War to ensure the writers were not writing work deemed contadictory to the Communist Party’s agenda. I think the average American is intelligent to know the difference between what is appropriate for the work place and what is not. We don’tneed the American KGB to do this for us.

  3. Luci says:

    I agree it’s a T.V. show, nothing else, KGB is trying to tell all the AMERICANS what to watch, this is AMERICA for christs sake, not some foreign country.

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