Sunday, March 05, 2006

Confirmed: America's Funniest Videos disguises foreign videos to its audience

Last edition, we reviewed America's Funniest Videos and we maintained that we heard (among other things) the f-word on national TV. Early last week, friends at ABC began advising us of the network's official response to the broadcast and asking that we write about it (which we did, in "Industry Shocker: America's Funniest Videos? Not that American," on Wednesday).

As we noted in that entry, the American Broadcasting Company's official line is that the video in question (a man crashing on a bike into trashcans) was actually a foreign video, from the Czech republic. Since noting that, we've received two fowarded e-mails.

We'll quote one in full since it can't be considered a person e-mail -- it has nothing to indicate that a person wrote it. It's from "Audience relations." A tip for ABC, "Audience relations" might "relate" better to the public if they gave a name. Here's the e-mail and we're putting stars over the curse word:

Thank you for your note regarding "America’s Funniest Home Videos." The clip that you wrote about is showing a teen boy on a bike jumping over and crashing into a garbage can and is actually a submission from the Czech Republic. The language that you are hearing is not English.
We always listen to any foreign language clips with an ear toward what an English speaking audience might think they hear. The Broadcast Standards watched that clip again and it does not sound like "f**k". As far as they can discern it is unintelligible. Thank you for your feedback and for watching the ABC TV network.

Another tip for "Audience relations," the woman who wrote about this problem (to her affiliate, not to ABC) did not use the f-word proper. She did not spell it out. She forwarded this to us partly because she was offended that "Audience relations" of the American Broadcasting Company thought it was okay to write her, someone who'd never contacted the network, and include the f-word.

Probably not a good tactic to toss the word around in an e-mail to a stranger who has a) never written you and b) taken offense at what she heard over the airwaves. Was this their generic e-mail? How many people who complained about language received an e-mail with the f-word spelled out in it? Is that Disney policy? To use the f-word in company e-mails? Well we warned you last week that the holy rollers/family set wasn't all that.

So for those wondering, that is the official response. ABC maintains that no English curse word aired on their airwaves during America's Funniest Videos.

If that's their official position, then by all means let's note it. No foul words in English were heard on America's Funniest Video because the video in question was in another language -- the video in question was neither funny nor American.

ABC would no doubt want us to set the record straight. So we will. Should you think you hear a foul word on the show, remember that, although Tom Bergeron never tells the audience this, America's Funniest Videos does not show American videos exculsively. So when you watch the show entitled America's Funniest Video, you're watching a show that's billed falsely. We hope that clears it up. (Yes, we still have the recording and we'll hold on to it.)
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