Televised Cencorship

Censorship in television fluctuates from station to station.  A certain channel can feature dialogue that degrades the female anatomy.  While another channel will completely bleep out anything pertaining to the male anatomy.  The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is in charge of regulating the content that may or may not be aired on radio or tv.  The FCC can revoke a stations licence if the on-air content is obscene or extremely indecent for the public.  But what is considered to be obscene?

I was recently watching a movie on TNT that freely used the words slut and whore, yet beeped out the words gay and homo.  This generation seems more accepting than other generations have been (in my opinion).  We now allow people to wear whatever they want regardless of sex, we accept any sexual preference, and we celebrate difference.  Many states allow gay marriage.  President Obama recently declared that he supports same-sex marriage.  So why is it that the words gay and homo are still being censored?  if those words are to be censored why are there two new fall cable tv shows that center around a gay couples lives?

Although I could not find an actual list of what can and cannot be said on tv, it is common knowledge that the F-word and nudity are not to be permitted.  It truly depends on the network as well as the time for what is allowed.  The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau allows indecent (but not obscene) material to be broadcast between 10 PM and 6AM.

Obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment, meaning the material may not be broadcast at any time.  “According to the U.S. Supreme Court, to be obscene, material must meet a three-prong test: (1) an average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest (i.e., material having a tendency to excite lustful thoughts); (2) the material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and (3) the material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value” (FCC rules).   Indecent material describes sexual or excretory organs or activities that are offensive to the viewers.

When viewing broadcast content, the FCC looks for explicit content, repetitive descriptions of sexual or excretory organs, and sexually provoking or shocking material.


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