Television expletive censorship 'unnecessary'

By Hayden Donnell

Expletives were muted for the first 17 minutes of the movie Zack And Miri Make A Porno last night, but the BSA says this was not necessary. Photo / supplied
Expletives were muted for the first 17 minutes of the movie Zack And Miri Make A Porno last night, but the BSA says this was not necessary. Photo / supplied

A TV2 decision to edit expletives out of the first scenes of a 9pm movie has been labeled unnecessary by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

The authority has told the station to stop blaming it for the decision to censor the film.

Expletives were muted for the first 17 minutes of the movie Zack And Miri Make A Porno on TV2 at 9pm last night.

Viewers launched into a fiery debate with the broadcaster on Twitter over its decision to censor the movie, which uses the 'f word' 219 times.

PaMelville said 'blanking out' the expletives had robbed the movie of half its dialogue. "Are we not grown up yet in this country?"

Another Twitter user with the screenname hamo_d said it would have been better not to show the movie than to cut "three dozen" swearwords in the first 15 minutes.

"People love an uncensored piece of work, delivered as intended. Don't play movies you haven't got the balls to show as intended."

TV2 Twitter editor Chris Hooper last night blamed the edit on Broadcasting Standards Authority rules.

The station was required to censor offensive content during the transition between the G-rated My Kitchen Rules and the AO movie, he said.

"It's not because we liked the extra editing work - BSA rules about going from a family show into AO."

BSA guidelines urge broadcasters to ensure strong adult material is not shown soon after the 8.30pm cut off time for children's programming.

But BSA chief executive Dominic Sheehan said there were no rules requiring TV2 to censor a movie with a 9pm start time.

He said the station was blaming the BSA for an editorial decision.

"They can't put that onto us as the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

"If the viewing public is saying 'we don't want anything censored from 9pm onwards they should be listening to the viewing public."

Mr Sheehan pointed to a recent High Court decision to reverse a BSA ruling against the TV1 show Hung.

The High Court said a prolonged oral sex scene at 10:10pm on the show did not breach good taste and decency standards as it was appropriately classified and after the adults only watershed.

"To me they're using the BSA as a shield here," Mr Sheehan said. "You certainly can't say 'we can't do that because the BSA says we can't' in this circumstance. There is no precedent to show that."

A TVNZ spokeswoman said the decision to censor the film was made on grounds of good taste and decency.

Zack And Miri Make A Porno was an adult film and care needed to be taken given the volume and coarseness of the language in its opening scenes, she said.

"Films are routinely modified in order to comply with free-to-air television broadcasting standards...

"Obviously while maintaining broadcasting standards is a priority, we try not to interfere with viewers' enjoyment of the content - it's a balancing act."

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