WRAL Raleigh Done With Silencing 'SNL'

After its attention-grabbing audio cuts, the station will air whatever NBC allows
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A week after its high-profile bleeping of Saturday Night Live, WRAL in Raleigh, N.C., has relaxed its standards for the show, saying from now on anything that is OK with NBC is OK with the station too.

Saturday Night Live has a 40-year history of cutting-edge, late-night comedy,” said Steve Hammel, VP and general manager of the Capitol Broadcasting-owned NBC affiliate. “Most viewers have unique expectations when they watch SNL—expectations that clearly differ from those of any other program on WRAL.”

Under the new policy, which went into effect Saturday, WRAL viewers will get the same version of SNL approved by NBC—even if that includes any of the 10 taboo words the station would delete during other broadcasts, Hammel said.

Viewers were notified on-air of the change. The revision applies only to SNL broadcasts.

WRAL’s decision to cut audio nine times during Dave Chappelle’s Nov. 12 SNL appearance generated buzz around the country, raising concerns that the station was silencing the comic’s message along with his voice.

Hammel, however, said censorship was never the intent. Control operators were adhering to station policy that prohibits the broadcast of 10 specific words deemed offensive, as well as nudity, he said.

The procedure was established following Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

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