TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Soldiers' Words May Test PBS Language Rules

Soldiers' Words May Test PBS Language Rules

Monty Solomon (
Sun, 23 Jul 2006 22:52:13 -0400

The New York Times

The PBS documentarian Ken Burns has been working for six years on "The
War," a soldier's-eye view of World War II, and those who have seen
parts of the 14-plus hours say they are replete with salty language
appropriate to discussions of the horrors of war.

What viewers will see and hear when the series is broadcast in
September 2007 is an open question.

A new Public Broadcasting Service policy that went into effect
immediately when it was issued on May 31 requires producers whose
shows are broadcast before 10 p.m. to adhere to tough editing
requirements when it comes to coarse language, to comply with
tightened rulings on broadcast indecency by the Federal Communications

Most notably, PBS's deputy counsel, Paul Greco, wrote in a memo to
stations, it is no longer enough simply to bleep out offensive words
audibly when the camera shows a full view of the speaker's mouth.
From now on, the on-camera speaker's mouth must also be obscured by a
digital masking process, a solution that PBS producers have called
cartoonish and clumsy.

In addition, profanities expressed in compound words must be audibly
bleeped in their entirety so that viewers cannot decipher the words.
In the past, PBS required producers to bleep only the offensive part
of the compound word.

Since May 31, bits of dialogue have been digitally obscured about 100
times in four PBS programs, most often in two episodes of the music
documentary "The Blues."

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