Thursday, July 15, 2010

Court strikes down FCC ban on unscripted profanity

One things TV does NOT need more of, it is profanity. Slowly, networks have been allowing more profane images onto their screens and have been flirting with adding profane language as well in the service of "realism" or "gritty feel." During the George W Bush years, the FCC got very aggressive, especially after the so-called wardrobe malfunction. But now a 3 judge panel in NY has overturned FCC rules against profanity in "unscripted" events. This is likely to free to networks to allow any level of profanity at events like award shows.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals did not have the power to strike down the 1978 Supreme Court decision that affirmed the FCC's right to police the airwaves for objectionable content. But it reversed the aggressive stance the agency took starting in 2004 that found even a slip of the tongue that got by network censors was a violation subject to fines for the stations that aired it.

The court said that policy on so-called fleeting expletives was "unconstitutionally vague" and created a "chilling effect" on the programming that broadcasters chose to air. The court echoed complaints from network executives that the FCC's standards were nearly impossible to gauge, noting that the agency allowed the airing of the f-word and s-word in broadcasts of the World War II movie "Saving Private Ryan" but not in the PBS miniseries "The Blues."
What I want to know is what an "unscripted event" entails. Specifically, how does this ruling affect reality TV shows like SURVIVOR which technically are unscripted, but are all over the airwaves?


CRCHAIR said...

THis may be more applicable to things like sporting events which are carried live and you can't always get your hand on the "dump" button fast enough. It is often at a free throw in an NBA game where you catch a swear. The sports leagues are trying to include more player and crowd noise to make you feel more like you are at the event.

shadowmom1 said...

I still prefer the bleep sound to the actual vulgarity. The society is already vulgar enough.