Why Janet Jackson's Sudden Exposure Is No Surprise

The latest set of quotes on the matter have arisen in This Hollywood Reporter article.

Much finger-pointing and head-shaking. My personal moral response, I won’t share here.

A few people are shocked that there was no way to know that such behaviors would happen. It doesn’t matter if they knew in advance or not.

In 1975, Richard Pryor was on Saturday Night Live. He did a skit with John Belushi, and because of the nature of the skit and the language committed to, NBC prepared to broadcast the entire show through a 7-second delay. The script included the words " honkey " and " nigger ". There was concern that Pryor might deviate from the script and go even farther afield into new and bold language for Network T.V. He did not, the show went off as written.

There is absolutely nothing in today’s technology that would prevent the use of a 7-second delay. This is a tempest in a D-Cup from where I sit, if people are afraid of what CBS will broadcast at the GrammY Awards, then run a 7-second delay.

If an offensive image or act lasts longer than 7 seconds then baby, they have a lot more to worry about than an exposed boob.


True, although I seem to recall reading an interview with one of the NBC censors from the early days of SNL (probably in the book “Live From New York”) in which he said that even with the 7-second delay, it’s doubtful anything would have been bleeped, just because it takes too long to react. Once you’ve heard the offensive word or whatever, and made the decision to bleep it, and reached for the bleeper button, 7 seconds have passed and it’s gone out over the air already.

I wish I had a more specific cite, but I can’t find the book. I remember reading it in there somewhere, though.

Nitpick: Assuming you’re referring to the word-association sketch, it was Pryor and Chevy Chase, not Belushi.

Re the article, I can see how the comments about being “outraged” and “appalled” might apply to the deceptive way the performers staged the event, but… it’s a boob. They weren’t jamming screwdrivers into infant fontanelles, for crying out loud.

My apologies, you are correct. It was Chevy Chase, not John Belushi.

As for the reaction time on a 7-second delay, you have to trust me when I say that the people in the control room ( or, in the case of the Super Bowl, the Trucks ) are hitting buttons with literally split-second timing. The Director says, Ready 4, Take 4 - and the Technical Director hits the button IMMEDIATELY, and Camera 4 is seen by the viewing public.

Try asking someone to tell you to put your finger down on a piece of paper, where your finger is hovering a fraction of an inch over the paper. 7 seconds seems too short an amount of time? It’s an eternity in television. Most SHOTS do not laste 7 seconds. Additionally, the Delay Button is the job of one person, and that person would literally have their finger resting on the button. They see something objectionable, they hit the button. That’d take a second, two at worst.

Had CBS chosen to be wise and employ a delay circuit, this whole thing would never have been seen anywhere but in the trucks, and of course live in the stadium. They chose poorly, because Viacom owns both CBS and MTV and so choices are made higher up that become difficult to live with lower down.

As far as the crotch-grabbing and lyrics and whatnot, it is pretty much S.O.P. in the last few years to push the limits of censoring out the window and to the bottom of the barrel. The Grammy’s and MTV Music Awards are the two best examples of this stuff. This comes as no surprise that this went down. You hire M.T.V. to produce a half-time show, you get what you get.

It’s a little off-subject, but I recall that immediately following 9-11, there was some talk that all NFL broadcasts should be put on 30-second delay. Lest, of course, terrorists attack the stadium and a large part of the nation sees it all live. Just to add a little seriousness to this thread.

Cartooniverse, I agree that 7 seconds seems like more than enough time to react. I was just reporting what I vaguely remember reading somewhere. Which, I admit, is not super-helpful.

I have a related question, assuming anyone knows the answer, which is: how exactly does the delay button work? Does it just excise 7 seconds from the broadcast, or does it insert a bleep over the sound, or does it black out the screen, or what? If you’re watching a show on a delay, and the producers use the delay, what do you see?

AFAIK, you see the “live” broadcast seven seconds after it occurs, and the producers have edited it. That’s about as specific as I can get.

Delay Buttons are super-sophisticated these days. I’ve seen versions that will remove the offending material from the buffer, cutting immediately to whatever appears after it, and then digitally slow down the incoming footage a tiny bit to make up for lost time until the buffer is full again.

I’ve even seen versions that store up to several minutes, giving the censor adequate time to do sophisticated edits on-the-fly.

Perhaps a slight hijack here, but am I the only person here who firmly believes that football broadcasts are already on a slight delay?

I’m referring here to the broadcast of the play (including its relevant sounds) compared to the overlay of the announcers’ comments. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve heard the announcers shout “it’s caught!” or “he DROPS the pass!” an instant before the pass even reaches the receiver’s hands.

Personally I’m convinced that the play is on a slight delay relative to the announcers’ overlay just to give them a little time to be sure what happened (and to whom it happened) and sound more on top of the action and that the occasional “pre-announcement” is actually a timing error.

What does a bleep have to do with a boob? You can’t bleep out a boob, can you? One is audio, one is video.

You might not be able to bleep a boob, but in seven seconds you can cut to a camera that didn’t see the boob. Cut to a crowd shot or something.

Hah, I got you to say “bleep a boob.”

I know, I’m twelve. But isn’t it fun saying bleep and boob in the same sentence? C’mon, you know it is.

Heck, I am thirty-two and boob is still a fun word. The day it is not fun is the day I send a bullet through my brain.

If you’re talking about hearing a game on radio while watching it on TV, for various reasons the radio and TV signal never get to you at the same instant. I even have problems with a local TV station where the signal on cable reaches my TV 1/2 second before the over-the-air-signal gets to me.

If you’re asking if the TV announcer is actually announcing the play live and the video signal is being intentionally delayed, so that the voice comes out ahead of the picture, all I can say is it’s not being done on purpose.

A few years ago, the TV station in Pittsburgh (KDKA) that shows Steelers games was caught compressing a Steelers game. They did this to insert an extra commercial.
KDKA was able to add the extra commercial during the Pittsburgh Steelers-Kansas City Chiefs football game on Oct. 25 by using Prime Image’s Time Machine, which makes it easy to take a live program, delay it to extend the commercial break and then micro-edit or reduce the remaining portion of the program to have it end on time.

The station was caught when Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Dimitri Vassilaros noticed that the game on KDKA was running about 30 seconds behind the live radio broadcast of the game he was listening to on WDVE-FM. Preferring the announcers on WDVE, he had decided to listen to the game on radio while watching the action on TV. But he was surprised to find that he would hear a play on the radio long before he saw it on KDKA.

Needless to say, the NFL was not happy about it.