A chill is coming over future TV productions -- and it isn't just the economy.
Now the Supreme Court is piling on -- a victory for the Federal Communications Commission. The so-called "fleeting expletive" on broadcasts will now be subject to regulation and fines. The decision doesn't concern scripted, pre-produced TV shows -- just the unfiltered live content that broadcasters can't always readily stop.
Since the FCC has levied some fines against fleeting expletives in live TV shows, some programmers have been offering 5-second to 7-second delays on live programming -- all to catch the errant language. But the court says this isn't enough (because stuff can be missed anyway), and that broadcasters should be held responsible.
In a separate development, TV networks have complained that the high cost of TV network programming isn't going away; this is coupled with the fact that marketers want to pay less for those shows. In fact, it'll all get worse. TV actors still want -- and get -- big fees.
The good news for TV programmers is that the current court decision doesn't affect them. But this doesn't mean that cold winds aren't whipping around their legs, arms... and necks. The thought is, if live programming is a target now, is scripted, pre-produced programming next?
TV content critics are building steam for the criticism that all TV shows
are getting rougher with language and images. Couple this with the fact that TV viewership is getting more fractionalized, and you have a problem. Where will this end up?
Big-brand marketers on TV still favor well-produced, high-quality scripted TV shows over run-of-the-mill reality shows. They'll even pay more for scripted content, which means producers can then ask for more in license fees, and in turn, TV networks can charge premium cost-per-thousand-viewer prices. So for TV producers scripted programming is still the gold standard. Will the possibility of FCC fines put a dent in the golden goose?
Still, recent stories confirm that overall TV usage keeps growing. To me that simply means viewers like the content -- racy and all -- that's on television.