Fox may have taken some heat for cutting parts of Sally Field’s anti-war acceptance speech at Sunday’s Emmys, but the fallout may play in the network’s favor.
For years now, they have been challenging the FCC’s more stringent indecency regulations and fines as no less than arbitrary. And media chieftans have been arguing that the result would be a “chilling effect” on broadcast television and free speech.
Field used the term “goddam wars,” which didn’t make it to U.S. versions of the show.
So a high profile event like the Emmys helps make their point — they are now forced to pull the censor trigger rather liberally. So even though other networks have allowed the use of the word “goddam,” when it comes to live television, broadcasters are forced to be better safe than sorry. Or so the thinking goes.
A Fox spokesman tells ABC News that, with broadcasters subject to millions of dollars in potential fines, networks have to be especially cautious.
“In the current regulatory environment, the feeling [for broadcast networks] is that we have to err on the side of extreme caution.”
While progressive groups cried foul that Field’s anti-war comments were cut, Fox can point to the fact that it also censored more ribald comments made by Ray Romano and Katherine Heigl. And when David Chase collected his Emmy for “The Sopranos,” he inferred, absent any hint of blue language, that today’s leaders are like gangsters. That stayed in the show.
So even if the incident incited anti-war groups, so be it. This case of censorship only proves the networks’ point, especially as they challenge the fed’s rules in court.