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  #1  
Old 05-04-2009, 02:58 PM
breakthesky breakthesky is offline
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What words are censored on television in the United States?

I'm aware of the George Carlin skit, but are those all of the words that you can't say on television?
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  #2  
Old 05-04-2009, 03:10 PM
Telemark Telemark is online now
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Originally Posted by breakthesky View Post
I'm aware of the George Carlin skit, but are those all of the words that you can't say on television?
There is no list. Many of those have been spoken on broadcast TV without any significant issues. It's all context and audience.

Anyone can file a complaint about anything - http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgb/fcc475B.cfm
That's what drives FCC actions.

Last edited by Telemark; 05-04-2009 at 03:12 PM..
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:11 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Carlin later expanded his "seven words" because of the obvious reality that there are dozens or hundreds of such words.

Which words depend on a lot of things, including the type of show, the time of day, and the context they are presented in. There is not a master list. Nor are the words technically censored. The FCC can fine stations that air the words but it cannot ban their use. And the fines only apply to network television outlets (not the networks themselves). Cable stations can air anything they please, but most voluntarily bleep the words. Again, which words depend on lots of factors.
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  #4  
Old 05-04-2009, 04:04 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20090504.html

Any word that depicts sexual acts or excrement.
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  #5  
Old 05-04-2009, 04:08 PM
De La Rue De La Rue is offline
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While nothing is explicitly banned, the chilling effect means that:

On broadcast television, you can't say fuck, shit, or asshole.

On basic cable, you can't say fuck or shit, but I think you can say asshole. At least it's not censored on The Venture Bros.

On fancy cable like Showtime, HBO, or Bravo, you can say fuck. I believe I've heard Bravo censor sometimes, so who knows what their logic is.
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  #6  
Old 05-04-2009, 04:09 PM
Joey P Joey P is online now
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Originally Posted by De La Rue View Post
On basic cable, you can't say fuck or shit, but I think you can say asshole. At least it's not censored on The Venture Bros.
You missed that episode of South Park didn't you.
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  #7  
Old 05-04-2009, 04:11 PM
friedo friedo is online now
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Originally Posted by De La Rue View Post
While nothing is explicitly banned, the chilling effect means that:

On broadcast television, you can't say fuck, shit, or asshole.
Wrong. "Asshole" has been spoken plenty of times on broadcast TV. I hear "shit" all the time on 60 Minutes, and that show is practically made for 90-year-old busybodies. What can and can't be said is a matter for each network's standard and practices office to decide on a case-by-case basis, based on how much they think people will complain and what their advertisers will think.

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On basic cable, you can't say fuck or shit, but I think you can say asshole. At least it's not censored on The Venture Bros.
Nope. Have you ever watched South Park?
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  #8  
Old 05-04-2009, 04:29 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by De La Rue View Post
While nothing is explicitly banned, the chilling effect means that:

On broadcast television, you can't say fuck, shit, or asshole.
And dozens of other words depending on time and context.

Quote:
On basic cable, you can't say fuck or shit, but I think you can say asshole. At least it's not censored on The Venture Bros.

On fancy cable like Showtime, HBO, or Bravo, you can say fuck. I believe I've heard Bravo censor sometimes, so who knows what their logic is.
There are no outside restrictions for cable. None. All restrictions are self-imposed by each individual cable content provider. Comedy Central, for example, broadcasts movies and roasts that are bleeped at other times uncensored late on Saturday nights. It is entirely voluntary. There are no rules. Same for satellite broadcasting.
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  #9  
Old 05-04-2009, 06:18 PM
TBG TBG is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by De La Rue View Post
While nothing is explicitly banned, the chilling effect means that:

On broadcast television, you can't say fuck, shit, or asshole.

On basic cable, you can't say fuck or shit, but I think you can say asshole. At least it's not censored on The Venture Bros.

On fancy cable like Showtime, HBO, or Bravo, you can say fuck. I believe I've heard Bravo censor sometimes, so who knows what their logic is.
Bravo is basic cable, not fancy, assuming you mean premium by fancy. It's certainly not in the same category as Showtime or HBO.

As for what words you can say where, following Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction brouhaha, things started to get more strict again. Network shows had been allowing more and more use of words like bullshit (seemed like they said it at least once a week on NYPD Blue for a while) but now even bitch seems to be cut back on. It didn't seem to affect cable, and shows like Breaking Bad or various BBC America imports will allow shit quite often, but still bleep fuck.
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  #10  
Old 05-04-2009, 06:26 PM
acetylene acetylene is offline
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I've always found this an interesting topic.

Here's the FCC's page dealing with this. It discusses obscenity, indecency, and profanity. My take on it is that obscenity=hardcore porn, indecency=softcore porn, and profanity=swearing.

So what words are considered profanity?

The FCC says:
Quote:
What makes material “profane?” “Profane language” includes those words that are so highly offensive that their mere utterance in the context presented may, in legal terms, amount to a “nuisance.” In its Golden Globe Awards Order the FCC warned broadcasters that, depending on the context, it would consider the “F-Word” and those words (or variants thereof) that are as highly offensive as the “F-Word” to be “profane language” that cannot be broadcast between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

What is the “safe harbor”? The “safe harbor” refers to the time period between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., local time. During this time period, a station may air indecent and/or profane material. In contrast, there is no “safe harbor” for the broadcast of obscene material. Obscene material is entitled to no First Amendment protection, and may not be broadcast at any time.

Are there certain words that are always unlawful? No. Offensive words may be profane and/or indecent depending on the context. In the Golden Globe Awards Order, the FCC stated that it would address the legality of broadcast language on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the context presented, use of the “F-Word” or other words as highly offensive as the “F-Word” may be both indecent and profane, if aired between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Last edited by acetylene; 05-04-2009 at 06:27 PM..
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  #11  
Old 05-04-2009, 06:28 PM
Nanoda Nanoda is offline
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f***er
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  #12  
Old 05-04-2009, 07:58 PM
De La Rue De La Rue is offline
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Thanks for the elucidation everyone!
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  #13  
Old 05-05-2009, 02:02 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
The FCC can fine stations that air the words but it cannot ban their use. And the fines only apply to network television outlets (not the networks themselves).
This I don't understand. Wikipedia says that the FCC is an agency of the US government, and you say that they can fine TV stations for using "bad" words - not content that's against the secrecy act, not content that is inflammatory or insulting, but words like shit and fuck.

Given all the chest-beating about Freedom of speech that Americans do with regard to other countries' laws, how can a federal agency fine and thus restrict the free speech on TV in the US? Why has this not been struck down by the Supreme Court?

The self-censorship with bleeping on Cable is another thing, since it's not done by the government, though I still think it's very stupid.
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  #14  
Old 05-05-2009, 04:07 PM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
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My favorite one was Joy Behar (sp?) saying on The View, "Thank you Jesus", for having lost weight, getting "Jesus" bleeped on the West coast airing, when re-broadcast there, but not when she said it in New York. There are so many nuances here ... "Jesus" is a swear word? Or was it the thanking? Or the frivolous topic? Or was it a west coast thing? Did a committee of producers meet, and ponder and debate the topic? It was never more clear -- there are no dirty words, it's all what the producer "feels" like they have to do to avoid letters, that cause loss of ad revenue. Or in the case of South Park and trhe Venture Brothers, what they feel like saying, to generate buzz -- even negative.
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  #15  
Old 05-05-2009, 04:14 PM
kunilou kunilou is online now
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Originally Posted by constanze View Post
This I don't understand. Wikipedia says that the FCC is an agency of the US government, and you say that they can fine TV stations for using "bad" words - not content that's against the secrecy act, not content that is inflammatory or insulting, but words like shit and fuck.

Given all the chest-beating about Freedom of speech that Americans do with regard to other countries' laws, how can a federal agency fine and thus restrict the free speech on TV in the US? Why has this not been struck down by the Supreme Court?

The self-censorship with bleeping on Cable is another thing, since it's not done by the government, though I still think it's very stupid.
Because the Federal Communications Act of 1934 (and for that matter, earlier legislation) declared that the broadcast airwaves are a limited resource, and that licenses to use them were to be granted on the basis of the public's "interest, convenience and necessity." And the agency of the government that regulates those airwaves, the Federal Communications Commission, has determined that obscene speech falls into none of those categories. And because the courts have consistently upheld that determination, and Congress has declined to change that law, for the past 75 years.

For that matter, there are a number of federally mandated requirements that one may or may not feel fall under the category of freedom of speech:

A portion of the broadcast frequencies is reserved for use by only non-commerical stations

Stations must identify themselves by their call sign and city of license

Stations must disclose that an announcement or program has been paid for, and by whom

Stations that provide time for a candidate for political office must provide "equal time" to all candidates for the same office, and must charge those candidates the same price

Stations may not broadcast "hoaxes" -- information that they know to be false, that causes "substantial public harm" and that a station could reasonably forsee would cause harm

Stations must keep a file detailing their efforts to provide programming in "the public interest, convenience and necessity" and make that information available to the general public

(There are some others, but these are the ones I know off the top of my head.)
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  #16  
Old 05-05-2009, 04:36 PM
acetylene acetylene is offline
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Originally Posted by constanze View Post
Given all the chest-beating about Freedom of speech that Americans do with regard to other countries' laws, how can a federal agency fine and thus restrict the free speech on TV in the US? Why has this not been struck down by the Supreme Court?
One week ago today the Supreme Court sided with the FCC
Quote:
In its first ruling on broadcast indecency standards in more than 30 years, the high court handed a victory on Tuesday to the Federal Communications Commission, which adopted the crackdown against the one-time use of profanity on live television when children are likely to be watching.
The case was against Fox, who have appealed it:
Quote:
The network said it was optimistic that it would ultimately prevail on the free-speech issue. If Fox wins before the appeals court, it would be up to the FCC and the Obama administration to decide whether to take the matter back to the Supreme Court, legal sources said
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  #17  
Old 05-05-2009, 07:07 PM
Donovan Donovan is offline
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Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
There is no list. Many of those have been spoken on broadcast TV without any significant issues. It's all context and audience.
I can vouch for this - about 10 - 15 years ago, I was watching public television (local broadcast station) and there was liberal use of a lot of nasty words, including racial epithets and the word 'fuck' on an answering machine message replayed as part of a documentary on some hate group. None of the words were bleeped out. It kind of startled me, cause I wasn't used to hearing language not bleeped out on broadcast TV. To the best of my knowledge, there wasn't any kind of backlash.
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  #18  
Old 05-05-2009, 10:38 PM
De La Rue De La Rue is offline
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Originally Posted by Arkcon View Post
"Jesus" is a swear word?
Let us not forget that Cartoon Network turned Professor Farnsworth's "Sweet Zombie Jesus" into "Sweet Zombie". I'd say that's on the "take extreme caution to not possibly offend someone" side of things.
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  #19  
Old 05-06-2009, 01:07 AM
threemae threemae is offline
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Somewhat ironically, the FCC is often very reticent to strictly define the meaning of obscenity or any other category of speech that cannot be transmitted over the airways so as to avoid exercising (unconstitutional) prior restraint upon the stations. This can be quite frustrating for the stations.
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  #20  
Old 05-06-2009, 01:10 AM
Blank Slate Blank Slate is offline
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TBS, voluntarily, censors the line "you're my savior, man, my own personal Jesus Christ" from The Matrix. I have no idea why.
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  #21  
Old 05-06-2009, 11:12 AM
FalconFinder FalconFinder is offline
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CBS takes the cake when it comes to censorship.

Craig Ferguson got bleeped for saying the word "beaver" and it wasn't used as a euphemism! It got bleeped if someone from Beaverton would email in, or if he was actually talking about the animal for a legitimate reason! Of course, Craig did turn that in to loads of fun for himself and just showed an actual picture of a beaver and would say stuff like "you know the word for that animal I just showed. It rhymes with cleaver..."

Even MORE insane: they've even blurred a PUPPET'S MOUTH (and beeped the word) when Craig (who is off camera at the time) actually swears using the puppet. I absolutely could NOT believe that they did that!

The only reason I can figure for bleeping certain words on late night is because of TIVO and DVRs. People can conceivably be watching an "after the watershed" show during the time when kids could hear.
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Old 05-06-2009, 11:42 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Even MORE insane: they've even blurred a PUPPET'S MOUTH (and beeped the word) when Craig (who is off camera at the time) actually swears using the puppet. I absolutely could NOT believe that they did that!
You gotta watch out for those Puppet Lip-Readers. If they catch you saying a Dirty Word they'll report you to the FCC.
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  #23  
Old 05-06-2009, 01:03 PM
Telemark Telemark is online now
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Originally Posted by FalconFinder View Post
Even MORE insane: they've even blurred a PUPPET'S MOUTH (and beeped the word) when Craig (who is off camera at the time) actually swears using the puppet. I absolutely could NOT believe that they did that!
While it's certainly possible that the network did that, I can see the CF Show doing that themselves to have fun.
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  #24  
Old 05-06-2009, 01:17 PM
Terminus Est Terminus Est is offline
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David Letterman once complained that he couldn't say the word "bullshit" on his show without getting bleeped, even though the same network (CBS) had previously shown On Golden Pond (the play, not the film version) where a character said the same word without getting bleeped. (It's art, donchaknow?) To underline the point, he repeatedly ran a clip from the play, then tried saying the same word himself:

Quote:
On Golden Pond: Bullshit!
Letterman: bleep
On Golden Pond: Bullshit!
Letterman: bleep
On Golden Pond: Bullshit!
Letterman: bleep
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  #25  
Old 05-06-2009, 02:33 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Originally Posted by Donovan View Post
I can vouch for this - about 10 - 15 years ago, I was watching public television (local broadcast station) and there was liberal use of a lot of nasty words, including racial epithets and the word 'fuck' on an answering machine message replayed as part of a documentary on some hate group. None of the words were bleeped out. It kind of startled me, cause I wasn't used to hearing language not bleeped out on broadcast TV. To the best of my knowledge, there wasn't any kind of backlash.
As acetylene's cite notes the FCC recently decided to be stricter on what it considers inappropriate at times when children normally would be viewing the show. So what was allowed 10 years ago, may not be now. Also, see my prior cite to Dorf's column.
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:04 PM
FalconFinder FalconFinder is offline
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Originally Posted by Terminus Est View Post
David Letterman once complained that he couldn't say the word "bullshit" on his show without getting bleeped, even though the same network (CBS) had previously shown On Golden Pond (the play, not the film version) where a character said the same word without getting bleeped. (It's art, donchaknow?) To underline the point, he repeatedly ran a clip from the play, then tried saying the same word himself:
Something similar happened to Craig. It was during the time that Swingtown was on and they were allowed to say some word that Craig got beeped for (maybe that was the beaver reference?).

Anyway, I remember him complaining about it because they got to say it on that show, which was on the same network and on at an earlier time.

I might have actually saved that monologue...
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Old 05-06-2009, 11:09 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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I believe it was Bono who said "fucking" on a music awards show, as an intensive ("this is really, really, fucking brilliant"). The ruling, after much ado, was that it's OK to say "fucking" if you're not actually talking about, you know, fucking.

Link

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  #28  
Old 06-10-2009, 06:32 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
Because the Federal Communications Act of 1934 (and for that matter, earlier legislation) declared that the broadcast airwaves are a limited resource, and that licenses to use them were to be granted on the basis of the public's "interest, convenience and necessity." And the agency of the government that regulates those airwaves, the Federal Communications Commission, has determined that obscene speech falls into none of those categories. And because the courts have consistently upheld that determination, and Congress has declined to change that law, for the past 75 years.
I can't see the sense in that reasoning at all. Profanity isn't a seperate category, it's part of normal content. So if the FCC allows mind-numbing entertainment like dialy soaps or talk shows to air for convenience, instead of only showing the news for necessity and BBC reports for interest, then why is fucking and shit censored?

Quote:
For that matter, there are a number of federally mandated requirements that one may or may not feel fall under the category of freedom of speech:

A portion of the broadcast frequencies is reserved for use by only non-commerical stations
That's important to keep the freedom of press (which is not only printed media), because a free, neutral press that serves as watchdog (and not as Paris Hilton /Faux News show) is important to a functioning democracy.

Quote:
Stations must identify themselves by their call sign and city of license
That's part of the technical way to run things. It's like saying that your car needs to be identified by a license plate - that regulation doesn't prohibit you from driving where you want (Within the legal limits).

Quote:
Stations must disclose that an announcement or program has been paid for, and by whom
part of free press: you have to be able to seperate news from paid and therefore subjective content.

Quote:
Stations that provide time for a candidate for political office must provide "equal time" to all candidates for the same office, and must charge those candidates the same price
makes sense to not favour one candidate over the other, again freedom /neutrality of the press.

Quote:
Stations may not broadcast "hoaxes" -- information that they know to be false, that causes "substantial public harm" and that a station could reasonably forsee would cause harm
You mean, like the War of the Worlds radiplay that caused a panic? That's similar to not shouting fire in a crowded theater to cause a panic, because people could get hurt or killed.

Quote:
Stations must keep a file detailing their efforts to provide programming in "the public interest, convenience and necessity" and make that information available to the general public
Is that the legal description of having a TV programme?

Quote:
(There are some others, but these are the ones I know off the top of my head.)
Well, the rest make sense, only censoring profanity and boobs but nothing else is what I can't wrap my mind around.
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  #29  
Old 06-10-2009, 06:39 PM
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I used to collect TV censorship incidents in the 1970's-80's. Things might have changed since, but I found it interesting that if someone said "God Damn," that "God" was censored but "Damn" was not. I can only conclude that blasphemy enflames censors more than vulgarity.
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:39 PM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is offline
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BBCAmerica allows any word EXCEPT "fuck"
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Old 06-10-2009, 08:02 PM
kunilou kunilou is online now
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constanze you may agree or disagree with the rules the FCC makes, but the important thing to remember is that they apply ONLY to broadcasters that use the "public" airwaves. There is no law, for example, that forbids me to print a newsletter anonymously and distribute it to my neighbors. There is no law that requires a newspaper or magazine to sell or give advertising space to all candidates for political office, or even to mark paid content as advertising.

Quote:
Profanity isn't a seperate category, it's part of normal content.
Profanity is not forbidden. Obscenity is.

And here's the FCC's official explanation of what's profane, indecent and obscene.
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Old 06-10-2009, 08:06 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is online now
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BBCAmerica allows any word EXCEPT "fuck"
What about cunt? It's much worse than fuck over here.
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Old 06-10-2009, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by De La Rue View Post
While nothing is explicitly banned, the chilling effect means that:


On basic cable, you can't say fuck or shit, but I think you can say asshole. At least it's not censored on The Venture Bros.
On FX (a basic cable network), there are several dramas and comedies in which the word "shit" is routinely said: The Riches, Damages, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Shield, Rescue Me.

As others have noted, cable is not regulated by the FCC. Censorship is done by the individual networks and the shows' producers. Matt Stone and Trey Parker have said that Comedy Central doesn't censor South Park, that they censor it on their own because they think it sounds funnier with the bleeps. Comedy Central has even run the movie uncensored, abeit after 1:00 in the morning. Comedy Central also runs other movies uncensored during hours when adults are more likely to be watching.
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Old 06-10-2009, 11:13 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Originally Posted by constanze View Post
I can't see the sense in that reasoning at all. Profanity isn't a seperate category, it's part of normal content. So if the FCC allows mind-numbing entertainment like dialy soaps or talk shows to air for convenience, instead of only showing the news for necessity and BBC reports for interest, then why is fucking and shit censored?
It's hard to explain the U.S. system to anyone from another country, partly because the U.S. system is unlike anything else and partly because it's riven with internal contradictions between our professed ideal of free expression and the reality that everybody is offended by something.

The FCC does not censor. The FCC has no powers whatsoever of any kind to regulate or dictate what can or cannot be shown or said or done on network television. This is absolute.

However.

The license that the individual affiliate stations have, the one that allows them the monopoly over that particular frequency in that particular city, the license that makes them tens or hundreds of millions of dollars a year, possibly the most valuable single piece of paper in the country, comes up for renewal every three years.

The FCC almost never revokes such a license. Even so, the thought that their ticket to untold riches may be taken away from them drives the station owners insane. They want that piece of paper that makes them rich. They want the programming that the network supplies that draws in the viewers that allow them to sell the ads that make them rich. They don't want anything - anything - that might cause a single viewer to turn away from their station. And they are driven frothy with fear and frustration that they don't control that programming that comes in from the networks and has such control over their wallets.

The networks have similar fears about offending advertisers, either directly or indirectly through viewer protests. The FCC has no power over networks. None whatsoever. But each networks owns about nine major affiliates, a major source of profit that they don't like to talk about, and affiliates are what the FCC does have power over. And even the affiliates they don't own, 99% of whom are in "middle america," like to scream at them daily about their heathen lib'ral Hollywood/New York sex-laden godless indecent perverted programming. Well, some of their viewers don't, some of them being very vocal about it. The rest of their viewers like it very much thank you and want it indecenter and perverteder. But they aren't as vocal about it.

As a result network programming tries to be as edgy as humanly possibly without offending anyone of any sensibility. Hence the numbing of minds.

Cable was supposed to end this nonsense, but of course turned into 500 channels broadcasting the same stuff as the original 5.

What is the FCC's power then, the power that makes grown station owners wet their pants even though a license is never ever taken away except in the cases of actual mass murder and treason?

They can issue small fines.

In 2006, the limit for fines on "indecency" was raised to $325,000, a big jump from the previous $32,500, but c'mon, we're talking about companies that net hundreds of millions of dollars. And they won't pay a cent, since they'll buck the fine up to the network which issued the original broadcast. Because they can. Admittedly a maximum fine times the 200+ stations affiliated with a major network would run into some real money, except that no such maximum fine has ever been levied.

It's just that the thought of a fine for indecency makes them wet their pants. Why?

Partly because of this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou
Stations must keep a file detailing their efforts to provide programming in "the public interest, convenience and necessity" and make that information available to the general public
This file is essentially a compilation of all the complaints the station has received from the public. The file is legally accessible to any member of the public who wants to see it. (The station may take reasonable steps if you ask, like getting your name and group affiliation and whatnot, but they are not supposed to bar you from it. It used to be a big thing among activists to try to see the file and do massive publicity if their request got turned down, but that was the 60s, man, and I don't know what goes on today.) If an organized group wants to start a campaign against your station, the public file can bulge into a public set of filing cabinets. And the FCC reviews each and every one of these when it does a license renewal. The FCC can impose various restrictions on a station that are equivalent to probation, so that the station has to walk on tiptoes for the next three years. Because some competitors' lawyers can walk in and read the public file and tell the FCC, hey, we'd be much better at upholding the public interest than these heathen lib'ral Hollywood/New York sex-laden godless indecent perverted jerks.

So you do not get dirty words on network tv. You do not get nudity. You do not get blasphemy. You keep them blacks off until the times change and then you keep them gays off until the times change. Network tv does not lead culture. It follows it, cringing every step of the way.

That's why U.S. network television is weird beyond measure and profitable like self-reproducing gold mines. Until the advertising goes away and then it will be blackness everywhere in a matter of days. Nothing on television is done for you. It is all for advertisers. Ratings are not about programs; they exist only to tell advertisers how many potential eyeballs there were for their ads. That's why time-shifted television doesn't count. Old advertising is useless advertising. That's why certain demographics are courted and larger demographics ignored. That's why everything you find unintelligible about network tv happens. Television exists to show advertising. Everything else is subordinate to and derivative of that fact.

The FCC is completely independent of this notion, legally, fiscally, and morally, and it's completely independent actions happen to support this notion every single time.

You cannot explain this to anybody outside the system. Inside the system they think of nothing else. Nothing else.
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Old 06-11-2009, 04:38 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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The only reason I can figure for bleeping certain words on late night is because of TIVO and DVRs.
(2) advertiser complaints, (3) affiliate station complaints.
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Old 06-11-2009, 04:41 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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IAnd even the affiliates they don't own, 99% of whom are in "middle america," like to scream at them daily about their heathen lib'ral Hollywood/New York sex-laden godless indecent perverted programming.
You need to get out of NYC more often.
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  #37  
Old 06-11-2009, 04:49 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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I believe it was Bono who said "fucking" on a music awards show, as an intensive ("this is really, really, fucking brilliant"). The ruling, after much ado, was that it's OK to say "fucking" if you're not actually talking about, you know, fucking.

Link
The October 2003 opinion is outdated. The FCC reversed on appeal in March 2004:
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We conclude, therefore, that NBC and other licensees that broadcast Bono’s use of the “F-Word” during the live broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards violated 18 U.S.C. § 1464.43 By our action today, broadcasters are on clear notice that, in the future, they will be subject to potential enforcement action for any broadcast of the “F-Word” or a variation thereof in situations such as that here. We also take this opportunity to reiterate our recent admonition (which took place after the behavior at issue here) that serious multiple violations of our indecency rule by broadcasters may well lead to the commencement of license revocation proceedings, and that we may issue forfeitures for each indecent utterance in a particular broadcast.
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:23 AM
seosamh seosamh is offline
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Last week, an episode of The Simpsons was shown on Channel 4 in Great Britain at 6 o'clock in the evening which included the word "shite", spoken by Groundskeeper Willie (if anyone can tell me which ep it was, I'd be grateful: he was referring to tractors, I think). "Shite" is a pretty well-known variant of "shit".

You wouldn't normally hear that word on TV over here before the 9 o'clock "watershed". I'm guessing that nobody in the US television censorship department recognised it a rude word.
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Old 06-11-2009, 08:24 AM
BrandonR BrandonR is offline
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Originally Posted by seosamh View Post
You wouldn't normally hear that word on TV over here before the 9 o'clock "watershed". I'm guessing that nobody in the US television censorship department recognised it a rude word.
You'd be right. US censors don't seem to care if its a curse word in another locale/language, as I've heard plenty of offensive spanish phrases on TV without a hitch. "Bloody" in the British context is also aired without issue in my experiences, although I'm not sure exactly how powerful of a curse word that is (if it is at all) over in GB...
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:22 AM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
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Originally Posted by seosamh View Post
"Shite" is a pretty well-known variant of "shit".

You wouldn't normally hear that word on TV over here before the 9 o'clock "watershed". I'm guessing that nobody in the US television censorship department recognized it a rude word.
Such occurrences are commonplace. When Comedy Central ran "Absolutely Fabulous", they often bleeped contemporary profanity that is understood by American English speakers -- for example, "fuck." But "buggery bolloks" was perfectly OK, ... just don't give the definition to anyone on this side of the pond if you want to be polite.

As a semi-aside, my sister routinely uses "bugger", she thought it had something to do with cute, little, beetles. Heh. I explained to her it has meant sodomy for 'bout 100 years. She was aghast, she thought it was bowdlerized profanity, not archaic profanity.

But really, no one on this side of the pond is going to raise a major issue with the occasional pushing of the envelope on "The Simpsons." It's been around so long, it's become so much a part of our culture, anyone who complains will be laughed at. Now, "Family Guy", that one gets picked apart daily by the bible-thumping crowd. I think because, for a variety of reasons, it's a safer target -- it's newrer, it's edgier, not as consistantly funny (IMHO, and I do enjoy it), exposes the left-wing more than the Simpsons does, etc.

Like my "The View" example abouve -- "they" (whoever cares about such topics) wanted to make a big deal about it, but the show is too well liked by mainstream America for the indignation to propagate properly. Go ahead, say "fuck" on Oprah -- no one will ever be able to stop you. I'd enjoy seeing people try. Try to convince advertisers to drop the show. It would be amusing to watch the effort crash and burn.
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  #41  
Old 06-11-2009, 11:40 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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You need to get out of NYC more often.
You need to read my location more closely.
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Old 06-11-2009, 12:20 PM
YogSosoth YogSosoth is online now
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Thanks Exapno Mapcase, that was really illuminating. I've never actually thought about what allows a network to have total control over a frequency in a city. Such a thing must be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps a billion (anybody know how much, say, NBC pays for New York City broadcast rights?) Taking that into account, it does seem simple common sense that the networks try to safeguard it at all costs. People might complain about bleeps, even irrelevent ones like "god" or "Jesus" or "beaver", but nobody's going to organize a campaign to stop a show because of extra censorship (then again maybe it has happened, I don't know).
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:46 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Thanks Exapno Mapcase, that was really illuminating. I've never actually thought about what allows a network to have total control over a frequency in a city. Such a thing must be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps a billion (anybody know how much, say, NBC pays for New York City broadcast rights?)
NBC pays zero. The license is given to the best qualified applicant. Free of charge.

In real world terms today it probably costs a lot of lawyers' fees to put together a decent application, but remember that most stations got their licenses more than 50 years ago when television was in its infancy. The important cities' licenses were filled up by around 1947. You could get one for the asking, especially if you had any political clout. (Read about how Lyndon Johnson got the only license in Austin, Texas and how many years it took for any competitor to be allowed in.) Only a few visionaries understood how valuable they were going to be in a nation that then only had a few hundred thousand sets total.
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:52 PM
YogSosoth YogSosoth is online now
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Well then, how much would it be worth?
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:03 PM
Apollyon Apollyon is offline
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Originally Posted by Arkcon View Post
As a semi-aside, my sister routinely uses "bugger", she thought it had something to do with cute, little, beetles. Heh. I explained to her it has meant sodomy for 'bout 100 years. She was aghast, she thought it was bowdlerized profanity, not archaic profanity.
Hehe... for your viewing pleasure the (somewhat infamous) NZ Toyota Hi-lux "Bugger" advert.
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  #46  
Old 06-11-2009, 08:50 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Well then, how much would it be worth?
Whatever somebody would be willing to pay for it.
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:31 PM
kunilou kunilou is online now
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Well then, how much would it be worth?
Have I got a deal for you. 56 stations for $1.2 billion.

None in New York City, though. But you make it up in volume.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:33 PM
ouryL ouryL is offline
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I remember first hearing the word "damn" on TV in 1967 on the show "Judd For the Defense". Of the show was on the air way past our bedtime in the so-called adult hours.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:41 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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I have a copy of Destiny, West!, a live television drama on NBC from 1960 in which an explorer looks down from a mountain pass and shouts, "Damn! Damn!"
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Old 06-12-2009, 01:10 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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I have a copy of Destiny, West!, a live television drama on NBC from 1960 in which an explorer looks down from a mountain pass and shouts, "Damn! Damn!"
Are you sure? I was always told that such profanity would bring on the world's end. Yet here we are.
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