Thursday, January 12, 2006

There Are Two (or Four) Sides to Every Censor's Action

As you probably know, four affiliates refused to air ''The Book of Daniel'' last week. I'm always surprised that local affils still feel the urge to censor what their viewers are even capable of watching, especially since show information and the V-Chip are so widely available.

The V-Chip works wonders for parents since it offers the ultimate in censorship. Well, kind of. Parents have total control over what their children watch, but parents must still rely on some censor to label a show with "D," "L," "S," or "V." The show is either violent enough and is given a "V" or the show is not violent enough and it avoids the "V" rating. Parents still rely on the discretion of some national censor. I wonder why regional censors (TV stations) can't assign numbers for each letter to reflect regional viewpoints rather than refusing to air a TV show.

There may be more concern in the future. At some point your TV will have its own IP address, and your overzealous home owners' association may have a list of IP addresses for every TV. Why? Your home owners association may negotiate a cheaper bundled rate for the entire community. But you home owners association can also impose community standards. If your standards are different, too bad. Welcome to the neighborhood.

Four levels of censorship. Nationally, a network and production company agree what should air while a monitoring board analyzes the ratings. Regionally, affiliates are free to impose stricter standards. Locally, associations will be able to impose even stricter standards. Individually, parents can impose the strictest standards.

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