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Joan Baez pushes television’s limits

Singer used the f-word on PBS’s Bob Dylan documentary
/ Source: The Associated Press

Another musician has tested the tolerance level for bad language on prime-time television, but she’s no raucous rock star.

Would you believe it’s Joan Baez?

The 64-year-old folkie was interviewed as part of “Bob Dylan: No Direction Home,” the two-part “American Masters” series directed by Martin Scorsese that aired this week on PBS. She talked about how frustrating Dylan could often be for fellow musicians, using the f-word.

PBS said both “clean” and unedited versions of the film were sent out to its 349 stations, leaving it up to the local station managers to decide their community’s tolerance for language.

To the best of her knowledge, only New York’s WNET-TV — the nation’s largest TV market and Scorsese’s hometown — aired the unedited version, PBS spokeswoman Lee Sloan said Wednesday.

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WNET spokeswoman Debra Falk did not say why the station decided to use it, and said both nights of the film began with the warning: “The following program contains strong language. Viewer discretion is advised.”

U2 frontman Bono sparked a Federal Communications Commission probe last year when he used the same word on a live Golden Globe Awards broadcast carried by NBC. NBC also banned Motley Crue from the network after band member Vince Neil used an expletive during a New Year’s Eve “Tonight” show broadcast.

The first night of the Dylan film averaged 3.6 million viewers Monday — a strong number for PBS.