Actually yes, you can use the C-word on TV.
Censoring, pixellation, extra warnings... here's why there was no problem with what Nine broadcast last night.
Before I unpack a moment from last night’s TV let me firstly say in no way do I condone the use of the C-word directed by male at a female.
Nor do I welcome its use on television per se.
But rules are rules, and last night Nine did not breach any broadcasting standards as we know them. Media suggestions that we are in “unchartered territory” are off the mark….
Nine bleeped the use of the word last night when Bronson directed it to Ines on Married at First Sight. His mouth was also pixellated, meaning viewers had to guess to his wording (now revealed through media articles today).
Nine unusually also ran a disclaimer before two segments, highlighting the adult themes (most of which were around partner-swapping). Bronson was also admonished by expert Mel Schilling, which further assists with the context.
And context is everything in such situations. Media watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority does not have a list of naughty words that can or cannot be used. It all comes back to the situation, how it was used and the number of times.
Updated: Nine classified the episode as PG. M rated cannot air until 7:30pm.
Last year ABC was given the all clear over its use on Tonightly with Tom Ballard because Greg Larsen used it with humour. ABC apologised for its use nevertheless, as it did when Clementine Ford used it on Hack Live.
There was certainly no humour last night, which is why it was censored, pixellated, admonished with appropriate warnings. Failing to do these could have landed Nine in hot water.
At the same time this was unfolding, on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here Richard Reid was joking with Justin Lacko about pick-up lines and fleetingly joked about staying at a hotel under the name “Big D*** Reid.” None of the media outrage today has been directed his way. It went uncensored, but given it is his name 10 would probably get a free pass too.
ACMA’s Code of Practice is intended to reflect community standards, so if viewers have issues with what’s currently acceptable on broadcast television it’s up to the community to respond.
Anecdotally, they appear more outraged over levels of violence on TV than language or sex, at least based on numerous surveys conducted at TV Tonight.