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When Broadcasts are Suitable Only for Children

NY Times: Saturday Night Live – Special Treat in a Box.

Given the subject matter, it was little surprise that NBC bleeped a recurring word in the chorus 16 times. But soon after the broadcast concluded at 1 a.m. Sunday, viewers who’d seen the bit on TV (and others who had just heard about it) could find the uncensored version online. That’s because the network itself had placed it on its own Web site and, under the headings “Special Treat in a Box” or “Special Christmas Box.”

The blue-noses of America want to turn broadcasting into a medium suitable only for children, and they’re having good luck with this campaign. To achieve their ends, they’ve turned the Federal Censorship, uh, Communications Commission into an agency whose job is frequently to assess big fines against broadcasters for all kinds of alleged violations of decency. Broadcasters, at long last, have begun to fight back, but late in the game.

Meanwhile, sensible adults are turning to cable, satellite and the Internet for video entertainment that has more of an edge. And so, it seems are the broadcasters themselves.

NBC tells the Times this kind of posting will probably be an exception. Maybe. But in the end it’ll be the rule, because as long as broadcasters have fewer First Amendment rights than other media, broadcast TV and radio will be less interesting media.

2 Comments on “When Broadcasts are Suitable Only for Children”

  1. #1 Delia
    on Dec 23rd, 2006 at 10:50 am


    I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the instances where typically bleeped words actually add to a “sensible adult” communication are extremely rare… (for the most part, they seem *childish* to me…) And the bleeping doesn’t really do much (it’s not like you don’t have a clue what’s beeing bleeped…).

    That being said, I don’t see much point in regulating it — let the market sort it out! And it’s very likely a highly fragmented market: some people wouldn’t *ever* want to hear that stuff, others wouldn’t mind it in the “right context,” while others …*gotta* have it! (doesn’t seem to have much to do with being a “sensible adult” or not… more of a taste thing…)


  2. #2 Delia
    on Dec 23rd, 2006 at 11:57 am

    re: 1st Amendment Rights

    Slipped my mind that you framed it as a 1st Amendment issue: don’t see any problem with letting broadcasters enjoy “full 1st amendment rights” — except for maybe *their* problem! (freedom of speech doesn’t mean others would listen to whatever you want to say…*however* you want to say it… — they would probably find themselves out of an audience at least in certain markets…)