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ABC plans time delay for Oscar telecast

Network will screen out any foul language
/ Source: Reuters

ABC will use a time delay during this year’s live broadcast of the Oscars Feb. 27 in an effort to screen out any scandalous wardrobe malfunction or foul language, a network spokeswoman said Wednesday.

“We are going to have a delay, but we can’t confirm how long it will be,” the spokeswoman said.

The trade newspaper Variety said the delay would last seven seconds, the usual time broadcasters use to check a live program before letting it go out.

The telecast for the U.S. film industry’s top honors, awarded by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, is one of the most-watched television programs and a major source of advertising revenue for the Walt Disney Disney Co.-owned network.

Following Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at last year’s Super Bowl, in which her breast was exposed, ABC initiated a seven-second delay to the live Oscar telecast.

The delay was not used amid a relatively tame telecast.

Since the Jackson scandal, the Federal Communications Commission has levied major fines against companies whose stars have pushed boundaries. In November, it fined Viacom Inc.  $3.5 million to settle complaints it broadcast indecent material on its radio stations.

Oscar host Chris Rock, 39, is known for his sharp tongue and raw language in stand-up comedy routines, as well as his appeal to younger audiences and fans of hip-hop music.

The Los Angeles-based Academy chose Rock to host this year’s show, in part, to bring in younger viewers. The academy wants stars appearing on the show to be spontaneous -- although not profane -- to some add excitement to the telecast.

An academy spokesman said the decision to use a delay was ABC’s. “There is no requirement that they do it (the delay), and we don’t want them to do it. But they are the ones that have the control,” an academy spokesman said.

Separately, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has said it is looking into the illegal copying of a “screener” of Oscar-nominated drama “Million Dollar Baby,” but would not give out any details about its probe.

A “screener” is a video or DVD of a movie sent by studios to Oscar voters, so they can see the film at home. In recent years, some these films have been illegally copied for sale on the black market or Internet download.

Last year, federal officials prosecuted a Los Angeles resident and academy member for allowing his “screener” DVDs to be copied and posted on the Web. The man was fined $600,000, and kicked out of the Motion Picture Academy.