The Creeping of Bleeping - AVS Forum
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:24 AM - Thread Starter
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I have established this thread to discuss the trend in the use of the bleep censor in today's television. Its use is becoming ever more prevalent, now firmly entrenched in late night and expanding rapidly into primetime televison.

New trends are the use of profanity and the bleep censor by a late night talk show host in his monologue (Jimmy Fallon), the use of the bleep censor in trailers of movies shown on late night television, and the use of the bleep censor in television commercials, something that is not legal in the United Kingdom where television and radio commercials are not allowed to use bleeps to obscure swearing under BACC/CAP guidelines. Just tonight Fallon let loose with a several bleeps; even a band member yelled a profanity loudl..

Of course, we all know about the ubiquitous bleep censor on reality shows and talk shows. Did you know that as recent as the 90's the producers would edit out obscenities rather than bleep them out? I will provide links to some of the edited out wear words on YouTube for evidence; e.g., raunch talk shows; Leno as late as early 2000's did not use the bleeeep censor! (yes, not that long ago bleeeeeps were extremely rare!). Even American Idol hosts never used an obsencity unti Steven Tyler joined the show; I did not watch one episode last year to avoid his rampant swearing covered by the bleeeeping.

Even Howard Stern rarely used obscenities on his show. What makes it particularly aggravating is the piercing noise the producers use; I can hear the sound in rooms far removed from the television when I cannot hear the television otherwise; I have been woken by the sound of the bleep censor. It is as grating or more so in my opinion as fingernails on a chalkboard.There have been scientific articles written why the bleep censor is so piercing and irritating; it has something to do with how the brain does not have time to process the noise gradually. The sound is so intrusive that it will cause my ears to ring for some time after a particularly long and extended high-pitch bleep. I would like to hear your opinion on this growing trend.

I will explore this further with references in other posts to this thread.

Do you find it annoying or not? Thanks.


See: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/12/entertainment/la-ca-bleeping-20110612 ; http://benton.org/node/77516 ; http://news.yahoo.com/beep-why-digital-sounds-annoying-152006593.html ;

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=aggravating%20censorship

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Old 11-22-2012, 03:43 AM
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I don't think Leno even uses the words "heck" or "darn" anymore. The Tonight Show should be your safe haven now.

I like that on Conan now he can say words that always get bleeped on network tv.
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:44 AM
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Posts edited to remove obvious profanities. Do NOT circumvent the profanity filters.

igreg, I realize this is a thorn in your side and you've littered a dozen other threads with your complaints about beep tones. On my show, I prefer to use barnyard animal sounds, instead, but there isn't always time. I can throw a beep from a phone caller and turn the call around to air with only 12 seconds leeway. To do anything else requires more time.

To that end, in three decades on the air, nobody.. NObody has ever complained about my use of tones to cover profanities. The only complaints I've gotten was for a bit I used to do in the late 80s and early 90s where we'd take stuff off of TV that wasn't profane, but beep it so it sounded as if it was. 20 years later, Jimmy Kimmell does the same bit. He calls it "The Week in Unnecessary Censorship." Sadly, I don't get royalties for this. But had to cease due to complaints from parents.

I think the number of people who are annoyed by tones vs silence in profanity editing is going to be almost nil.

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Old 11-22-2012, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

I think the number of people who are annoyed by tones vs silence in profanity editing is going to be almost nil.
And then subtract one.  As long as it isn't cacaphonous or shrill, I'm all for a bleep instead of silence.  When a program suddenly goes silent, then for all I know the audio dropped out for a moment and there are technical difficulties with my reception.

So count one very loud vote in favor of some sort of substitution tone when the actual word is unsuitable for broadcast.

My preferences are in the following order:

1. dialogue with no profanities
2. dialogue with the profanities intact
3. bleeps replacing the profanities
4. silence replacing the profanities
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Old 11-23-2012, 04:07 AM
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Sorry about that DrDon.

I also vote for not caring about a bleep. I think it would just be weird if they cut the audio.

I like Craig Ferguson's "whats-a-come-and-a-go".
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:29 AM
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I couldn't care less about bleeps or silences. Although silences often make me wonder if my stereo is acting up. I think it's funny that it bothers someone enough to actually complain. Just turn off the TV and watch some movies or tune in to TVland or the Disney Channel.
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Old 11-23-2012, 10:32 AM
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I welcome the change in attitude that has led to TV personalities speaking more freely and naturally, letting the bleeps fall where they may, and thus pushing the boundaries of censorship. I hope they eventually get pushed completely out-of-frame.

I also welcome the purposeful use of bleeping in scripted shows, whether used as a way for characters in realistic situations to speak believably (Southland) or for comedic effect by writing the bleep into the script (Modern Family). By shining a light on it more people will see how ridiculous it is.

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Old 11-23-2012, 11:03 AM
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There's a line, however fuzzy and however subjective, between free, natural, believable speech that might logically and plausibly include some profanity, which RDClark welcomes and which certainly doesn't bother me, and obscenity solely for the sake of showing off how cool, edgy, or current the speaker thinks (s)he is, which we can do without, whether or not it's bleeped.
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Old 11-23-2012, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

The only complaints I've gotten was for a bit I used to do in the late 80s and early 90s where we'd take stuff off of TV that wasn't profane, but beep it so it sounded as if it was. 20 years later, Jimmy Kimmell does the same bit. He calls it "The Week in Unnecessary Censorship." Sadly, I don't get royalties for this.

You might have if it had been an original idea.
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Old 11-23-2012, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by igreg View Post

yes, not that long ago bleeeeeps were extremely rare!
Bleeping has been around for many many decades.
Quote:
Originally Posted by igreg View Post

It is as grating or more so in my opinion as fingernails on a chalkboard.There have been scientific articles written why the bleep censor is so piercing and irritating; it has something to do with how the brain does not have time to process the noise gradually. The sound is so intrusive that it will cause my ears to ring for some time after a particularly long and extended high-pitch bleep. I would like to hear your opinion on this growing trend.
Some simply find any sinusoidal tone to be grating. I guess after so many years from having tone up somewhere that I can just totally ignore it. Maybe I have a notch at 400hz & 1khz.

Tone is used when you have time to control it's exact position and length such as editing. It's also meant to clue the listener to the fact that something unacceptable was said. Silence is generally used on live TV shows, though now some devices offer reverse live playout of the offending area. As mentioned, the problem with silence is the viewer doesn't know if it's a technical problem or intentional. There seems to be alot of dropouts on basketball now.
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Old 11-23-2012, 12:24 PM
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I don't like bleeping either, but that's why many of my favorite programs are on FX and HBO, where people talk like actual people.

It is amazing to me how puritanical we are compared to the rest of the world when it comes to this.
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Old 11-23-2012, 12:39 PM
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The US is rather backward compared to other countries like UK where bleeping or even nudity is not censored. Keep in mind that the networks have been challenging these FCC rules as "archaic" and trying to get them removed so they can compete with the Premium channels and not to mention the additional expense of having an editor bleep words or pixel blur nudity. In some cases the bleeping is hilarious because we all know what they are saying. It's catering to a small portion of US society and in the "malfunctioning custom" incident of about a decade back was the result of a very small group of the same people sending in email complaints from varying accounts.
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Old 11-23-2012, 01:32 PM
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Even worse that many if not most of those complaint letters are from people who didn't watch the show. The PTC has form letters for shows. The FCC had finally pushed things too far and got reigned in by the courts. But I don't think the purpose of this thread is mainly about censorship, but rather that auditory substitution of a pure natural harmonic waveform known as BLEEEEEEP.
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Old 11-23-2012, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

Posts edited to remove obvious profanities. Do NOT circumvent the profanity filters.
igreg, I realize this is a thorn in your side and you've littered a dozen other threads with your complaints about beep tones. On my show, I prefer to use barnyard animal sounds, instead, but there isn't always time. I can throw a beep from a phone caller and turn the call around to air with only 12 seconds leeway. To do anything else requires more time.
To that end, in three decades on the air, nobody.. NObody has ever complained about my use of tones to cover profanities. The only complaints I've gotten was for a bit I used to do in the late 80s and early 90s where we'd take stuff off of TV that wasn't profane, but beep it so it sounded as if it was. 20 years later, Jimmy Kimmell does the same bit. He calls it "The Week in Unnecessary Censorship." Sadly, I don't get royalties for this. But had to cease due to complaints from parents.
I think the number of people who are annoyed by tones vs silence in profanity editing is going to be almost nil.

I didn't use any profanities in my replies. It has been acceptable to use, in place of a swear word, the word with symbols covering part of the word. Has the AVS policy changed?

If I find no interest in the thread on bleeping, I will not continue with the topic.
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Old 11-23-2012, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
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That's the same argument people make when arguing against nonsmoking policies in restaurants.

And, yes, there are programs I will not watch because of the constant bleeps. SNL, any of the now several prime time shows that use the bleeep censor (even though I would love to watch some of them like "The Office", any taped segments from skits of any of the late-night talk shows, reality shows, Chelsea Handler, and taped segments regarding people reacting to storms, violence, car crashes, and so forth.
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Old 11-23-2012, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by igreg View Post
The sound is so intrusive that it will cause my ears to ring for some time after a particularly long and extended high-pitch bleep.

 

Perhaps you should turn your TV down?  I've been watching TV for more than five decades and I don't remember every hearing a beep that seemed even as loud as the average COMMERCIAL!!!!  Ears ringing from profanity beeps?  I have to say that's very hard to believe.  Maybe you hate them so much you're suffering from phantom psychological ear ringing?  biggrin.gif

 

 

ron

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Old 11-23-2012, 02:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Then why not have a less grating noise, like Craig Ferguson uses when obscenities are blurted during his interviews? On the AMA's last Sunday, the producers went as far as to bleep out a profanity by Ozzy Osborne that was never bleeped out in the original telecast, because, as noted, live shows do not use the bleep censor. Just another example of the trend.
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Old 11-23-2012, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Brian Conrad View Post

The US is rather backward compared to other countries like UK where bleeping or even nudity is not censored. Keep in mind that the networks have been challenging these FCC rules as "archaic" and trying to get them removed so they can compete with the Premium channels and not to mention the additional expense of having an editor bleep words or pixel blur nudity. In some cases the bleeping is hilarious because we all know what they are saying. It's catering to a small portion of US society and in the "malfunctioning custom" incident of about a decade back was the reult of a very small group of the same people sending in email complaints from varying accounts.

Good points. But the FCC has no authority over cable; yet, the producers still insist on bleeeping out rather innocuous obscenities. Unnecessary censorship.
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Old 11-23-2012, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TVOD View Post

Bleeping has been around for many many decades.
Some simply find any sinusoidal tone to be grating. I guess after so many years from having tone up somewhere that I can just totally ignore it. Maybe I have a notch at 400hz & 1khz.
Tone is used when you have time to control it's exact position and length such as editing. It's also meant to clue the listener to the fact that something unacceptable was said. Silence is generally used on live TV shows, though now some devices offer reverse live playout of the offending area. As mentioned, the problem with silence is the viewer doesn't know if it's a technical problem or intentional. There seems to be alot of dropouts on basketball now.

Bleeping has been around for a long time, but it was a grain in the sand, compared to the level of bleeping used today.For example, you very, very rarely heard bleeps in primetime television before 2000. You can read my first post to get an idea of the changes and trend. Also, check out my links.
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Old 11-23-2012, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
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That is part of the problem. I do have my home entertainment system with a nice receiver and speakers and most programs are now broadcast in DD 5.1. In fact, my Panasonic plasma is a commercial monitor with no sound, so turning down the sound is not practical and defeats the purpose of having a great sound system.
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by igreg View Post

That is part of the problem. I do have my home entertainment system with a nice receiver and speakers and most programs are now broadcast in DD 5.1. In fact, my Panasonic plasma is a commercial monitor with no sound, so turning down the sound is not practical and defeats the purpose of having a great sound system.
But if your ears actually ring after a bleep you have to seriously have your system pumping at ungodly levels or you've got something wrong with you.

I don't use my tv speakers either. I've got a receiver and separate speakers but bleeps don't make my ears bleed.
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:41 PM
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But the FCC has no authority over cable; yet, the producers still insist on bleeeping out rather innocuous obscenities. Unnecessary censorship.

Cable channels self-censor to make their advertisers happy. Advertisers don't want to associate their products with "obscene" programs, so the cable networks scrub their content to avoid losing advertising revenue. The reason premium channels don't censor is because they have no advertisers to appease.
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Old 11-23-2012, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by igreg View Post

Bleeping has been around for a long time, but it was a grain in the sand, compared to the level of bleeping used today.For example, you very, very rarely heard bleeps in primetime television before 2000. You can read my first post to get an idea of the changes and trend. Also, check out my links.

The last link regarding "digital beeps" is not that relevant as tones used are usually sinusoidal - not square waves. The switching isn't quite instantaneous as a slight ramp is needed to prevent pops.

One thing that has changed, largely due to the era of FCC over-reach, is that lip reading profanity is now off limits. Before that seeing what someone said was completely acceptable. It was when the FCC changed the rules to basically 'you'll know what's off limits when you get the fine for something that was done forever' took effect. Radio couldn't play song lyrics that they had aired for decades, or at least didn't want to take the chance that the FCC would make an example of them. The largest fine in broadcast history contained no profanity or nudity - it was just the content that the FCC didn't like. The PTC had their way with the FCC and it finally backfired. Perhaps programmers are getting back for that era.

This crude language downward spiral started with Clark Gable in GWTW. How outrageous to use the word D**n. Oops sorry, I forgot about not spoofing the profanity filters. &$%*@# !

BTW, I really like the clever title of this thread.
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Cable channels self-censor to make their advertisers happy. Advertisers don't want to associate their products with "obscene" programs, so the cable networks scrub their content to avoid losing advertising revenue. The reason premium channels don't censor is because they have no advertisers to appease.

But premium channels do censor non-movie content all the time. Most of their documentaries and sports programming; e.g., "Inside the NFL" contain the bleep censor.They also use the bleep censor in their promos; e.g., for stand-up comedy shows.

And so no cable channel is willing to push the envelope over a weakened FCC? The primetime networks have. I would think the audience base of certain shows would not have a problem with the profanity; therefore, the advertisers would not complain.
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Old 11-23-2012, 10:08 PM
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For example, you very, very rarely heard bleeps in primetime television before 2000.
But you didn't hear the profanities either; they simply were far rarer than they are today.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:11 AM
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I would think the audience base of certain shows would not have a problem with the profanity; therefore, the advertisers would not complain.
Advertising doesn't work that way. Advertisers hate controversy. Loosen the reins on profanity on prime time television and it won't be long before one of those "family" groups raises the roof, which gets news coverage which causes controversy which makes Advertisers withdraw their ads. Because some of the public on the coasts have no issue with profanity doesn't mean the Bible Belt doesn't. And it doesn't matter whether the audience for the show cares or not. People who would never go to a strip club still don't want them in their neighborhoods.

Neither broadcasters nor cablecasters want to deal with local backlash. And broadcasters don't want the fines, either. It's not the network or the producer who gets the fine, it's the guy holding the license. Which is fine if you're Scripps-Howard and your television station is in Detroit. $35 grand ain't gonna kill you. But if you're Frank Beauman Broadcasting and you have a station in Poteau, Oklahoma, 35 grand is going to do you in. Not to mention the lost ad revenue. One unbleeped f-word in, say, Springfield, Missouri, and the VERY-religious car dealer with 6 dealerships who dumps a million a year onto a station's books is GONE. And she may not even watch ANY of your programming. Perception is reality.

Don't get me wrong. I, for one, think people who don't watch a show have any right to gripe about it. 90% of the complaints I get about my show come from people who didn't hear it, only heard ABOUT it. Still, I have to address those before they complain to advertisers - which they do - and those advertisers yank their ads - which they have (well, when I did rock. Not so much with country, but it still happens.. and it's generally not for anything nearly as offensive as profanity).

Advertisers are a funny bunch. They care more about what the people at their church think than any results their advertising gets.

Until you live in this world as I do, you can't appreciate the intricacies of what makes it tick.

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Old 11-24-2012, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by igreg View Post

But premium channels do censor non-movie content all the time. Most of their documentaries and sports programming; e.g., "Inside the NFL" contain the bleep censor.They also use the bleep censor in their promos; e.g., for stand-up comedy shows.
Just because it's a premium subscriber-supported channel doesn't mean that profanity is a good idea 100% of the time. Some of the shows on those channels are G-rated, meaning "safe for all ages." Most parents I know would throw a massive fit if unbleeped cursing came through in a promo that ran right after "Madagascar" at 9AM on a Sunday. And they're not going to make two versions of the promo because that just invites the possibility of the wrong one airing at the wrong time.

As for the NFL, they pride themselves on being family-friendly. Which is why the Super Bowl carries a G-rating. Which is why the whole Janet Jackson fiasco was a bigger issue then than it would have been on an episode of, say, "NYPD Blue" back in the day. G-rated.. airing at 5pm (PT). Yeah, that's GOTTA be safe. "Inside the NFL" doesn't just run late at night. And it runs adjacent to family-friendly programming. Hence the bleeping. The promos for the comedians run 24/7. The actual comedy specials do not.

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Old 11-24-2012, 10:03 AM
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I also lost a lot of my tolerance for complaints once the V-chip rolled out. The whole idea was to program your TV so kids couldn't see a program you didn't want them to. But a funny thing happened. Have you noticed the V-chip promos are gone? Have you noticed very little chatter about the V-chip? Big reason for that: Advertisers. Just the thought that their commercial won't be seen because of V-chip blocking sends them into a gimmie-a-rebate tizzy. So, you won't hear any broadcasters instructing the public on how to use a V-chip or even what the big TV13 box in the upper right hand corner means. I really figured broadcasters could get away with profanities once that rolled out. Fielding complaints should be easy. "Hey, we warned you. You have a V-chip. Not our fault." But none of that works if an advertiser thinks her commercials are being blocked or if the offended viewer takes his gripes to that advertiser. So, you're stuck with pixeled body parts and bleeped swear words.

Always remember. You are NOT the customer. The advertiser is. You're the product being delivered to that advertiser.

And the same holds true for the premium channels. Don't even think that HBO is immune. Not with all of the ad-supported properties TW owns. You have someone like Federated decide they're so unhappy with something HBO is airing that they yank their bazillions of dollars from TW properties and you watch that program disappear.

Which, I'm convinced, is why even the premium channels stay away from some content. Don't want to lose subscribers.. but even more importantly, don't want to risk offending advertisers on their other properties.

Walking the fine line between jaw-dropping and a plain ol' yawn.
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Old 11-24-2012, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Conrad View Post

The US is rather backward compared to other countries like UK where bleeping or even nudity is not censored.

The UK has a slightly more nuanced view than you suggest. We have a well publicised '9pm watershed'. Anything broadcast prior to 9pm is deemed acceptable for all viewers. Anything after 9pm is going to be more adult and parents can expect a degree of discretion to be required. This applies to violence, language and nudity. There isn't a 'one size fits all' approach.
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Old 11-24-2012, 01:08 PM
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The UK has a slightly more nuanced view than you suggest. We have a well publicised '9pm watershed'. Anything broadcast prior to 9pm is deemed acceptable for all viewers. Anything after 9pm is going to be more adult and parents can expect a degree of discretion to be required. This applies to violence, language and nudity. There isn't a 'one size fits all' approach.
Thanks for chiming in, I wanted to hear an opinion from someone there but I've rented DVDs, BD's and streams of BBC shows which weren't bleeped or blurred. But I would assume that these shows such as "Being Human" or "Luther" showed after 9 PM there. The "s" word has been showing up on US cable networks such as FX and AMC but not the "f" word. FX seems to like to push the nudity envelope as much as they can get away with but then FOX is the one suing to get the rules gone. And the shows I'm talking about are after 10 PM. They know they have to compete with premium channels where there is no restriction. Gratuitous use is poor taste but use for realism is not.
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