McPherson, Bochco Spar Over Standards


Most broadcast executives start fidgeting when anybody brings up the issue of censorship in public.

While some broadcasters concede that their programming has been affected by the crackdown on indecency, others say no

ABC's prime time entertainment president, Steve McPherson, was in the latter camp  when the issue came up at Winter Press Tour in L.A. He told the group of TV critics that it's business as usual at the Disney-owned network when it comes to broadcast standards, that nothing has changed post Janet Jackson.

But Steven Bochco, whose NYPD Blue has been one of ABC's longest-running programs (it exits this season), has recently complained that the network has gotten more conservative.  He says he's recently had disagreements over content issues with ABC "over things that we hadn't fought about for 10-plus years."

Bochco also says that NYPD Blue wouldn't get picked up by a network today  given its use of explicit language, violence and sexual content.

"I hope that's not true," McPherson said when asked to respond to Bochco's concerns. "With NYPD Blue it was organic to what the show was. It wasn't about shock for the sake of it." McPherson added: "If we had that kind of a show today, we'd love to find a place for it - if we could work it into our schedule."

A few hours later, Bochco addressed the same group of journalists to promote his latest project, Blind Justice. That show is scheduled to debut in March on ABC, taking the timeslot now held by NYPD Blue.

"I hope he's right," Bochco said of McPherson. "It's my personal experience that the medium has become more conservative." Then he quipped: "I'll call Steve and I'll go pitch him something next week with a lot of asses and we'll see."