As the Supreme Court prepares to review the Federal Communications Commission’s indecency rules pertaining to the F-word and other expletives as well as nudity on broadcast TV, conservatives are gearing up to protect families.
TVGuardian LLC., an Arkansas company, recently introduced a new range of tools that families can use to protect themselves from encountering obscene language while watching TV.
Looking to provide a solution to FCC’s frequent overlooking of “fleeting expletives” used on TV – like when U2 singer Bono dropped the F-word on live TV during an awards show – the company hopes to make their filter device widely available.
Appropriately called the TVGuardian, the device, when connected to the back of a television, automatically works to mute out all forms of foul language from broadcast television, cable, satellite and DVDs.
The device offers profanity-free alternatives to the muted phrases as well. When phrases like “Move you’re a$%!” appeared, “Move your tail!” would pop up to take its place instead, allowing viewers to continue following along with the story.
Penned as a “foul language filter” for HDTVs, the device is designed to protect children not only from all foul language, but also from offensive religious slurs, sexual references and other inappropriate phrases.
More than 12 million devices have already been sold.
On Thursday, the company announced a new rental program that would help get the device into more homes, allowing parents with a tighter budget to still provide their children with profanity-free TV.
“Because it’s the only tool of its kind, TVGuardian is expensive to manufacture,” company president Britt Bennett said in a statement. “We hope this new rental program will make it more affordable for families.”
TVGuardian utilizes a patented technology that reads the hidden closed-caption text in the background of every show – which is required by law to have on television – checking each word against a dictionary of more than 150 offensive words and phrases.
Customers can rent the filter device for $9.95 a month.
“Words that used to be so rare and offensive on TV just a few years back are now almost commonplace. And more widespread,” Bennett lamented. “Lately, I’ve had customers telling me how they’ve been hearing foul language on cooking shows.”
“Though we can never protect our children from hearing foul language outside the home, we should be able to protect them from having to hear foul language inside the home,” Bennett told The Christian Post previously.
With a gradually increasing use of profanity seen on prime-time TV, conservatives worry over the future of broadcast television.
Though U.S. law has forbidden the use of several expletives on broadcast television between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children might be watching, the FCC has frequently overlooked “slips” of obscenity.
After much backlash from conservatives, the commission began to establish fines for those who used foul language on TV, even considering “fleeting expletives” and profanities not related to sex or excrement, a violation.
Broadcasters like Fox, however, fought back, taking the FCC to court, invoking their free speech rights and accusing the commission of not offering a “reasoned explanation” for their change in policy, according to The Associated Press.
The 2009 FCC v. Fox case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which upheld the FCC’s decision, although the justices did acknowledge that their decision was narrow and did not address the First Amendment question raised. They sent the case back to the court of appeals for further consideration, noting they were open to review.
Now, as the Supreme Court again prepares to review past FCC rulings on “fleeting expletives,” companies like TVGuardian LLC., with little guarantee of a profanity-free future, continue to do all they can to help keep television truly family-friendly.