Open Mike


CBS: Delayed Reaction

Editor: We’d like to clear up some misapprehensions that might be created by your Nov. 29 editorial, “Pay for Play,” which stated incorrectly that CBS instituted tape delays on live broadcasts as a part of Viacom’s recent settlement with the FCC.

This is not the case. CBS has been doing delays for years but, like other broadcasters, only with an audio delete capability. After the 2004 Super Bowl incident, it became clear that a video delete capability might also now be necessary, and we developed and implemented this technology within one week for the live broadcast of the 2004 Grammy Awards.

This was 10 months before any agreement with the FCC was rendered. We also testified before Congress last February about our commitment to do everything we can to protect our viewers from inappropriate content, including the implementation of such delays, which were already in place.

At the same time, your readers should also be aware of the fact that that no delay of any sort will be applied to live sports or news programming. The delay system that CBS now employs to delete inappropriate video and audio footage applies only to live entertainment programming, as well as entertainment events or interviews aired during sporting events. Our news and sports programming has aired, and will continue to air, without any delays.

Finally, contrary to statements in your editorial, no FCC action, much less any fine, was imposed on CSI, nor was any paid.

Gil Schwartz

Executive Vice President

CBS Communications Group

New York, NY

Editor’s note: Viacom’s settlement cleared up complaints to the FCC about CSI and other shows. No fines had been issued.