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Who makes censorship decisions about US TV shows?


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#1 Keith Walters

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Posted 26 September 2014 - 09:35 PM

I'm not much of a TV watcher, in fact about the only thing I watch regularly are some Tattoo-related 'Reality" shows shown here in Thursday evenings on channel 73.

I'm not into tattooing at all, I'm just bemused by the cavalcade of freaks and weirdos wanting tattoos disguised that they have come to live to regret.

What I find fascinating is that while the tattoo artists themselves look like something of an old-time Carnival freak show, they seem to be perfectly normal and rational people, while their clients are mostly freaks and weirdos trying to look "respectable". All that "impulse" ink they thought they were so cool and daring to get done 20 years ago  has come back to haunt them....

 

However what I'm interested in here is the truly bizarre (and illogical) way these shows get censored in Post Production.

 

In Tattoo Nightmares, EVERYTHING visual that could be considered even remotely offensive, is blurred out. Even barely recognizable nipples on girlie Tatts fer' cryin' out loud!

And they seem to be terrified of showing even the slightest hint of butt-crack or other cleavage on the customers; everything gets blurred out.

But here's the odd thing: They quite often get customers with obscene words tattooed on, and these are routinely "airbrushed" as well, but they don't seem to have any problem with them actually SAYING the words. So they're freely effing and blinding all the way through the show, and not a beep to be heard,

 

But then in a similar format show "Bad Iink" they seem to have no problems at all SHOWING bums and tits (real or inked) but in that case, even the slightest hint of spoken profanity gets bleeped out.

 

So, who exactly makes these decisions? Considering the amount of straight-down-the-barrel porn you can freely download (and for free) these days, who exactly do they think they're protecting?


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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 01:48 AM

In the UK it would be the executive producers or in an extreme case the head of programmes for the channel. There are guidelines  as to what can be shown, but there is a 9PM watershed when programmes with content deemed not suitable for younger viewers will be shown. How much will actaully be shown often depends on the audience profile of the channel. BBC1 and ITV tend to show less strong/revealing material than BBC2, BBC3. While Channel 4 may show content that the BBC wouldn't.  The programmes with stronger content tend to be screened later at night.


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#3 John E Clark

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 01:53 AM

In Tattoo Nightmares, EVERYTHING visual that could be considered even remotely offensive, is blurred out. Even barely recognizable nipples on girlie Tatts fer' cryin' out loud!

And they seem to be terrified of showing even the slightest hint of butt-crack or other cleavage on the customers; everything gets blurred out.

But here's the odd thing: They quite often get customers with obscene words tattooed on, and these are routinely "airbrushed" as well, but they don't seem to have any problem with them actually SAYING the words. So they're freely effing and blinding all the way through the show, and not a beep to be heard,

 

But then in a similar format show "Bad Iink" they seem to have no problems at all SHOWING bums and tits (real or inked) but in that case, even the slightest hint of spoken profanity gets bleeped out.

 

So, who exactly makes these decisions? Considering the amount of straight-down-the-barrel porn you can freely download (and for free) these days, who exactly do they think they're protecting?

 

Since I don't know these shows... I can only speak about generalities of US TV... and I don't even watch US TV except in Hotel rooms when there's nothing else to do...

 

But I am aware of FCC regulations, usually more 'technical' side of FCC but on the topics of what is allowed and what is not, I am aware of some things...

 

1. When people in the US talk about TV these days they often mean Cable TV. The meaning of TV as 'over-the-air-broadcast' is becoming less and less used by actual people... but rather they are watching stations that do have over-the-air-broadcasts via cable... no sense in switching from the cable connection to an outdoor antenna... well... oddly there is a small but growing trend of people cutting the 'cable TV' package, keeping the Internet service and putting up an antenna for 'local TV broadcast'.

 

2. The FCC, Federal Communications Commission regulates all radio eminations. For equipment that is not a 'radio', the regulations are directed to what it can produce in terms of RF and how it may generate interference. That's the 'technical side'.

 

3. The FCC regulates all 'broadcasts', such as Radio and TV over-the-air. That's where such words as '**(obscenity removed)**' or 'poop' are 'censored'. In the case of TV, images of naked humans are typically censored, and given how some set of people are given to complain at the least provocation, many broadcasters stay well within some bound of what could be censored, hence in the case of female tattoos on the female's breast or buttocks... I would say a show that fuzzes out most of such imagery is targeting 'over-the-air' broadcasts.

 

A few years ago Janet Jackson was giving a performance, and she had a 'wardrobe malfunction' which revealed a nipple covered with a 'shield'... a 'pastie' of sorts... caused an incredible amount of commotion. The FCC tossed out fines, CBS fought the fine, eventually prevailing, but obviously at some cost for legal defence...

 

4. There are 'cable only' content providers, such as HBO, Showtime, and others that produce shows for the cable carriers. The FCC has limited control over the content produced by such content providers, and distributed solely through 'cable' (that is not over-the-air broadcast), and so a show may be made by one of those entities, and it is up to the cable company to carry the content or not.

 

In addition some content providers want their shows to have a maximum coverage and so may 'shoot racier', but tailor edits to the cable carrier's standards.

 

The word 'indecent' is often used in regard to FCC regulations, so 'indecent' speech and images on over-the-air broadcasts are censored.

 

It would seem that you are watching shows made by 'cable content' providers in one case, perhaps 'censored' slightly to be transmitted to a wide audience, where someone some where may object to some types of material, but it is not an FCC regulation situation. On the other hand the other show sounds like  they were targeting 'over-the-air' broadcasts where FCC regulations are much tighter.

 

There's a new 'rage' on the reality show circuit... 'nake dating' or 'nake survival'... as far as I can tell, all of these shows fuzz out the 'naughty bits' (cue Benny Hill...).

 

*You will notice even my post has been censored to FCC standards...


Edited by John E Clark, 27 September 2014 - 01:55 AM.

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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 07:56 AM

I have noticed that censorship in the US seems to be quite puritanical about sex and profanity, but very permissive about violence, compared to other places.

 

P


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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 08:07 AM

I don't think they would screen the old BBC's "Holiday" programme in the US, it commonly had a bit of topless sunbathing or swimming.

 


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 08:18 AM

I'm not sure Auntie would show that now. Especially with Cliff Michelmore in a brown suit.

 

But I do rather like your differentiation of the current BBC from the "Old BBC"!

 

P


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#7 John E Clark

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 10:51 AM

I have noticed that censorship in the US seems to be quite puritanical about sex and profanity, but very permissive about violence, compared to other places.

 

P

 

Yes, naked boobs... R... guns, shooting, dead... PG13... well unless there's too much 'red' blood... green goo is ok...

 

Broadcast TV is even more restrictive.


Edited by John E Clark, 27 September 2014 - 10:52 AM.

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#8 George Ebersole

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 01:53 PM

Every production that gets put on network broadcast television has a standards and practices rep attached to the production.  There are some specific items prohibited by the FCC, but the networks also have their own guidelines which, in theory, are more stringent than what the FCC states is allowable by law.


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