Thursday, February 05, 2004

Oscars on delay

ABC is considering a slight tape delay for their broadcast of the Academy Awards on February 29th. Apparently ABC was considering this before the Super Bowl debacle, and at this point they are only considering the 5 second delay. Until now, the Oscars were not subject to any sort of delay, so this is kind of a big step.

In response to the possible delay, Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy had this to say, "We would be very concerned about a delay that would raise possibility of a network representative deciding that remarks like Michael Moore's last year would be inappropriate. We don't want that kind of censorship [emphasis added]. The ability to edit out a single word or a body part is different; that's not the same kind of concern, although some would see it as the camel's nose moving into our tent."

Once again, this is an improper use of the dreaded word "censorship" by a member of the entertainment industry. ABC's refusal to broadcast certain speech is simply not censorship. Real censorship would be a government actor mandating that speakers at the Academy could not say and do certain things. In contrast, no length of delay or editing by ABC would amount to true censorship. Moore and others would be free to do almost anything they please. They have that right. Those speakers do not, however, have the right to demand that ABC aid them in spreading a message that ABC does not want to spread.