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FCC And Allowable Content

I personally believe that the FCC use of not allowing obscene or profane words, sights on broadcast television is a good thing.  The V-Chip and the safe harbor time slot is a positive for both television and the people watching.

The only thing that really stands in the way of these rules are the grey areas to the definitions of what is profane, indecent, and obscene.  For example,“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.”

The over generalization of the guidlines will lead to either a super-sensitive censorship or a barely used censorship. When I watched the Grammy’s a few weeks ago, during one of the live performances, whole lines of Drake, Eminem, and Lil Wayne’s songs were censored out by CBS because the lyrics didn’t meet their standards to broadcast.

The generalization in the rules and the uber-sensitivity of broadcast stations to not get fined (in which they can be fined for EACH individual incident) caused CBS to censor parts of a performance for up to 8 seconds at a time.  From the standpoint of what is profane, the song and performance was not profane in context. The only instances of profanity were the actual lyrics and only a few of those lyrics could be considered profane by the definition, so why censor whole segments of a performance. The reason is the grey areas the FCC leaves open for interpretation.


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