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Censorship in Television

March 19, 2010

According to the article Regulating Television, “In the 1950’s, as today, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) prohibited “obscene and indecent” material. Programming is considered obscene if “the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the material appeals to the prurient interest; that the material describes or depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive manner; or taken as whole, the material lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.” Indecent programming was defined as “patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium and describes sexual or excretory activities and organs.”
Here is a link to a video of a man describing how the FCC regulates television. LINK

Freedom of speech is a basic human right, and this should not be eroded or compromised through censorship in a nation which likes to call itself free. Film-makers, poets, musicians, graffiti,  artists, internet site creators, should have the right to say what they think, without the feat of censure, from official authorities or elsewhere.
Obscene programming was prohibited at all times in the 1950’s, but “indecent” programming was allowed at certain time, typically after house when children went to bed. The meaning of indecent has tended to change over time.”

With today’s TV sex and violence, decades-old censorship seems silly. In 1942 Tweety Bird first appears in “A Tale of Two Kitties.” Animator Bob Clampett originally draws him without feathers, but the Hays Office censorship bureau thinks that plucked bird is just a little too naked. So Clampett had to cover Tweety’s flesh with yellow plumage.

Tweety Birds Original look before being censored

In the 1950’s, TV programmers would not show a married couple sharing a bed. Married couples, in 1950’s TV-land, slept in separate beds.

In today’s world, a lot more is acceptable in the TV world. A couple examples that come to mind right away is music videos, adult cartoons, and commercials. All of these things feature nudity, sex and violence as well as drugs and alcohol.

Should these things be more closely regulated? Or should parents just keep a closer eye on their children?

One of the primary arguments for censoring television  is “think of the children.”

Ricky and Lucy Slept in separate beds

If parents kept a closer eye on their children, this whole argument on censorship would be answered.
According to Television Censoring, “American children watch up to 4 hours a day, 28 hours a week” of television. By age 18 they watch 22,000 hours of TV. “Kids see violence on TV because their parent’s are not steering them away from their TV’s when something violent is on.”
“Studies have shown long-term childhood exposure to acts of violence is a major cause of the large number of homicides assaults and other kinds of violent crimes committed in this country.”
Parents can slowly introduce more mature television shows as the children get older, and this could teach them about  things actually happening in the world around them. They will learn about sex, war, drugs, alcohol and violence, real life issues that they will eventually have to face in the future. By already being exposed to these things they will already have developed a more positive way of how to handle specific situations. Instead of children learning by their own mistakes, they will be able to learn from the mistakes of others that they see on TV. According to, “I’m sorry folks, but television just isn’t a good babysitter and if you aren’t keeping tabs on their viewing habit then that’s on your head, not television.”

Children Tv Statistics
Approximate number of studies examining TV’s effects on children: 4,000
Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful
conversation with their children: 3.5
Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70
Percentage of parents who would like to limit their children’s TV watching: 73
Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV
and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500

There is something wrong if a little more than half of children would rather watch tv then spend time with their fathers. Parents need to regulate how many hours a day their child can watch tv, and they should watch with them! If parents began to regulate tv for their children, children wouldn’t be as obese, they would be more connected with their families, they would be more creative, and would have their own imagination instead of an imagination being handed to them through the television screen.

All it takes is a little more attention from parents to end this debate. Once parents realize this and regulate tv for their children, everyone will understand why tv shouldn’t be regulated.

Anne-Marie Tahramanis