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ABC to impose delay on Oscar telecast

Both audio and video to be affected

From Matt Carey
CNN


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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- For the first time, ABC will impose a video and audio delay on the annual Oscar telecast, allowing a network censor to bleep any objectionable content, a network official said Wednesday.

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"We are going to have a delay which is in keeping with our policy for all live entertainment," ABC spokeswoman Sue Binford told CNN. She said the length of the delay had not been determined, but that it would probably be in line with the five-second delay that applied to December's live broadcast of the American Music Awards.

A spokesman for the Motion Picture Academy, which produces the Oscar telecast, said the academy would not object to the delay, although the spokesman acknowledged there were concerns over what ABC censors might potentially bleep.

"Absolutely, we are concerned about censorship," the spokesman, who preferred not to be identified by name, told CNN. He said the Academy's Board of Governors discussed the delay issue at a regularly-scheduled meeting Tuesday night.

"We don't want this [the delay] to be a precedent," the academy spokesman said.

He added that the 1974 incident in which a streaker raced across the Oscar stage remains one of the most memorable moments in the history of the event, and said it would be a shame to eliminate that kind of spontaneity.

"Just think, the only laugh that man will probably ever get is for stripping and showing off his shortcomings," presenter David Niven quipped after the streaker ran off.

The academy's executive director, Bruce Davis, told Variety he was concerned the five-second delay might be used to censor the kind of political speech which filmmaker Michael Moore made from the Oscar stage last year.

Binford maintained ABC has no intention of censoring the broadcast for editorial or political content.

She said the network approached the academy about imposing a delay on the live feed well before Sunday's Super Bowl halftime show, during which Janet Jackson's breast was exposed at the end of a dance number with Justin Timberlake.

CBS is imposing a video and audio delay on Sunday's Grammy telecast in response to the intense criticism which followed Jackson's halftime show. The length of the delay has yet to be determined, according to the network.

The Oscar telecast airs on ABC on Sunday, February 29.


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