When viewers tune in watch the Oscars ceremony Feb. 29, the term
“live” might be misleading. ABC announced they will have a 5-second
delay to safeguard viewers from any obscenities. Networks have been
watched under a microscope after the Janet Jackson Super Bowl
incident. Networks have every right to be more cautious when it
comes to live coverage. The Federal Communication Commission is
pushing to increase fines from $27,500 to $275,000. But by using
this delay, we fear that it opens the floodgates for networks to
censor live coverage.
Everyone remembers filmmaker Michael Moore’s controversial
acceptance speech last year at the Oscars. Would ABC have censored
his comments if it had the means? Oscar telecast producer Joe Roth
told reporters Tuesday the network will only censor acts of
profanity, not political statements made by presenters or
Frank Pierson, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences, is unhappy with the delay, according to CNN.com.
According to trade paper The Hollywood Reporter, in a letter to
Academy members Pierson warned of a slippery slope leading to “a
form of censorship,” CNN reports.
We agree with Pierson. There are other ways to safeguard breasts
being exposed or streakers getting camera time. ABC could enforce a
dress code – something CBS could have used when pop singer
Christina Aguilera appeared on The Grammy’s wearing a very
revealing dress – CBS used their time delay tactics to cover her
cleavage with an enlarged caption.
No one can stop ABC from using a delay, not even the Academy.
But if ABC does decide to use it, it should not advertise that the
broadcast is live. It should be clear to viewers that what they are
watching is on a time delay and that it is edited for broadcast, if
the network does decide to censor anything.