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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Barbara K. Kaye, ProfessorCollege of Communication and Information - School of Journalism & Electronic Media

Cursing on television has long been subject to public wrath. It is feared that viewers, especially young ones, will repeat what they hear on screen and such repetition may lead to desensitization and thus to greater acceptance of cursing in real life. Further, many viewers are offended by cursing and do not want to be subjected to it while watching television. But what is considered offensive to one viewer may not be considered such by another. In 2012, the Supreme Court threw out sanctions against broadcasting companies that aired incidents of profanity uttered on live telecasts. In the wake of the ruling, the FCC is free to modify its indecency policy, and networks, at least for now, are free to self-regulate. But the ruling has left watchdog groups concerned that the amount of cursing on television will increase and the words will become even more explicit.​

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