Aim: To describe the time children spend watching television (TV) and to assess associations between TV viewing time, the family environment and weight status. Methods: Parents reported the amount of time children watched TV/video both for 'the previous school day' and 'usually' and described aspects of the family environment influencing TV access as part of a large cross-sectional study in the Barwon South-western region of Victoria, Australia. Child weight status was based on measured height and weight. All data were collected in 2003/2004. Results: A total of 1926 children aged 4–12 years participated. Parent-reported mean ± SE TV time for the previous school day was 83 ± 1.5 min. Children who lived in a family with tight rules governing TV viewing time (22%), or who never watched TV during dinner (33%), or had only one TV in the household (23%) or had no TV in their bedroom (81%) had significantly less TV time than their counterparts. Overweight or obese children had more TV time than healthy weight children 88 ± 2.9 versus 82 ± 1.7 min per day (P = 0.04). They were also more likely to live in a household where children had a TV in their bedroom than healthy weight children (25% vs. 17%, P < 0.001). Conclusion: Strategies to reduce TV time should be included as part of broader strategies to prevent childhood obesity. They should include messages to parents about not having a TV in children's bedrooms, encouraging family rules restricting TV viewing, and not having the TV on during dinner.