Why Are License Plates Obscured on TV?

Presumably to prevent bad people from using license plate numbers for bad purposes . . . but really, what could anyone do with a license plate number? And isn’t it silly to obscure them on TV when anyone could go stand by a street or highway and collect thousands of license plate numbers?


I’m sure it has something to do with privacy issues and the tv station.

I’ve wondered this as well. It’s not like it’s easy to look up license plate numbers, and I imagine many of the vehicles are leased or rented anyways. Yet these same people put their names at the end of the show and I bet you easily could contact them via their agents or the production company if you wished.

If you mean in car commercials? I always just assumed cause it makes the car look better. Same reason why they tint the windshield (even though I can’t imagine a state/province/territory/whatever that allows windshield to be tinted).

I have a theory.

In any shooting locale, the film crew would obtain a brand new model from the local dealership. Since having a real liscence plate would entail registration with the DMV, that would mean the car has an “owner” and when the dealership gets it back, the car is “used” and can’t sell it at “new” price. So the film crew uses a “dummy tag” with identifying state tag marks obscured with the car’s body color to further eliminate a visual distraction. ( The company dosen’t want you to see the tag, but the car…DUH!) :wink:

I think that the OP is not talking about commercials. This is on reality type shows (like Cops) or the news when plates are blurred so that they can’t be read. I think that it’s a privacy issue. It’s not easy for a private citizen to find out info from a license plate but there are plenty of people who can.


This issue here isn’t practicallity but legality. If they are displaying a license plate that is a unique identification element for a particular vehicle and transitively particular people. If they are trying to obscure their identities for legal reasons, they open themselves up for lawsuits if they don’t blur out the license plate.

I’ve always thought this was strange. My Amateur Radio licence is public record. Anyone here want to know where I live? Try checking N8NOO in the FCC database. Why is license plate registration so private, yet anyone on Earth who hears me on ham radio can quickly find my address?

Because no nutcases are going to hunt you down because of radio rage?