The entertainment industry bodies who self-regulate ratings in movies, music and video games — the groups at the fore of recent hot debates about violence in the media — have to be happy about this bit of news. According to results from the Federal Trade Commission’s semi-annual mystery shopper operation, movie theaters in 2012 bumped up their success rate of keeping underage patrons from seeing R-rated movies, with a record-low 24% able to get into the pics, compared with 33% in 2010. AMC Entertainment led exhibs with a 95% success rate, the best enforcement rate for the industry since the program started in 2000. (It’s unclear if the study took into account the old-fashioned way of kids seeing R-rated fare: buying a ticket for a PG movie and sneaking into the restricted one). The movie numbers are consistent with improved results from other media industries. Video games led the way with only 13% of underage patrons able to buy M-rated (suitable for ages 17 and older) titles, which a total of 47% were able to purchase music CDs with Parental Advisory Labels, down from 64% in 2010 and 72% in 2009.

Between April and June 2012, the FTC commissioned 13- to 16-year-olds unaccompanied by a parent to attempt to buy overage products from national and regional chain stores and theaters across the U.S. “We are proud of the significant improvement in ratings enforcement at America’s movie theaters and we renew our commitment to parents to continue to improve”, said National Association Of Theatre Owners president and CEO John Fithian. “We also congratulate our colleagues in video game retail for their industry leading levels of enforcement.”

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