Standards and Practices
In the United States, Standards and Practices (also referred to as Broadcast Standards and Practices) is the name traditionally given to the department at a television network which is responsible for the moral, ethical, and legal implications of the program that network airs. Standards and Practices also ensures fairness on television game shows, in which they are the adjunct to the judges at the production company level.
Examples of intervention by Standards and Practices
- The Standards and Practices department of NBC censored one of Jack Paar's jokes on the February 10, 1960 episode of The Tonight Show.
|“||An English lady is visiting Switzerland. She asks about the location of the "W.C." The Swiss, thinking she is referring to the "Wayside Chapel", leaves her a note that said (in part) "the W.C. is situated nine miles from the room that you will occupy... It is capable of holding about 229 people and it is only open on Sunday and Thursday... It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the W.C. and it was there that she met her husband... I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you, if you wish, where you will be seen by everyone."||”|
Paar was so very taken aback by the network's decision to censor the joke, he walked off the live show the very next day. As he left his desk in the middle of the program, he said, "I am leaving The Tonight Show. There must be a better way of, uh, making a living than this." Paar reappeared on March 7, 1960, strolled on stage, struck a pose, and said, "As I was saying before I was interrupted..." After the audience erupted in applause, Paar continued, "When I walked off, I said there must be a better way of making a living. Well, I've looked... and there isn't." He then went on to explain his departure with typical frankness: "Leaving the show was a childish and perhaps emotional thing. I have been guilty of such action in the past and will perhaps be again. I'm totally unable to hide what I feel. It is not an asset in show business, but I shall do the best I can to amuse and entertain you and let other people speak freely, as I have in the past."
- Episode 97 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) has never aired in the United States due to pressures from Fox Broadcast & Standards (although 4Kids Entertainment leased the time from the network for their FoxBox block and aired the series, it still had to meet Fox's broadcast standards). On the official TMNT website, Lloyd Goldfine states:
|“||The final edited and mixed version of the notorious 'Insane in the Membrane' was deemed unsuitable for air by Fox Broadcast Standards and Practices. Apparently, in between the time the episode was written, storyboarded, animated and edited (all stages approved by Fox BS&P), and the time the show was mixed for air, there was a change of personnel in the Fox BS&P offices, and no one involved in the original approvals was still employed at Fox. Upon seeing the episode, they were said to be 'horrified' and that there was no way they could air the episode. I'm not sure I disagree with them—had there been BS&P comments earlier in the process, we certainly would have handled the show differently. But as it was approved at every stage, we went full steam ahead. In the end, I was told it was bad judgment on my part... so there you have it.
I believe this episode will eventually be available, but plans have not been finalized.
- The final three episodes of the first season of Moral Orel were held back for various amounts of time by Standards and Practices due to being too dark and over the top sexually crude even for Adult Swim, which airs many shows rated TV-MA. Another episode entitled "God's Chef" was delayed for months before the Adult Swim network was able to show it. It has since been released uncensored along with the rest of season 1 and part of season 2 on DVD.
- Adult Swim was intending on airing Elfen Lied in April 2006 but was rejected because of its violence and nudity and that the only way it could pass was to have it severely edited. The series eventually aired on United States television unedited and uncut on IFC (since the channel had much more lenient standards on content (since it aired similarly violent anime such as Basilisk)) from April 6 to June 29, 2007.
- X-Men: The Animated Series was very heavily influenced by BS&P. Unlike the comic book, characters were rarely ever in any danger and characters almost never hit each other directly.
- The CGI series ReBoot was heavily censored by ABC during its two-season run on the network. The network announced the show would be canceled after its second season after it was purchased by The Walt Disney Company, which would make way for a schedule of all Disney-produced series. The writers wrote scripts for episodes that mocked ABC's S&P department due to it being canceled, including the insertion of unnoticed profanity within a stream of binary numbers. ReBoot went on to produce another successful season and two made-for-TV movies on other networks which had less strict S&P departments and content standards.
Game show incidents
Resulting from the quiz show scandals, game shows have been closely monitored by network standards and practices departments for possible irregularities. When an incident occurs, the most common resolution is to permit the contestant to appear on the game again at a later date.
The Price Is Right
On rare occasions, contestants who have lost games because of procedural irregularities have been awarded the prizes. Irregularities have occurred when prize descriptions or prices displayed for the item in question have been incorrect, mechanical errors with certain pricing game props, or administrative errors by models or the host (such as a misheard bid, models not doing what the contestant requested). When such an error occurs, the contestant is awarded any prizes in question. If the error is discovered before the ensuing Showcase Showdown (on hour shows), the host informs the contestant upon returning from commercial or before the Showdown, and the contestant is re-seeded for the Showcase Showdown based on the additional winnings. If the error is discovered after the ensuing Showcase Showdown, either a disclaimer appears or is read by the announcer during the closing credits of the show.
If a contestant is discovered to be ineligible, the ineligible contestant will forfeit all prizes, and likewise a disclaimer appears or a statement is read by the announcer. If the ineligible contestant is found to have won a One Bid, the contestants on Contestants' Row at the time the ineligible contestant was playing and did not win a One Bid are entitled to return to the show immediately once the infraction is discovered, per game show regulations, as their appearance was compromised by an ineligible contestant, pursuant to all game show regulations. The ten-year rule imposed in 2007 will not be in effect if a contestant lost a One Bid to an ineligible contestant and did not win a further One Bid during that episode.
One of the contestants on the original September 6, 1972 episode was the common-law wife of a cameraman, and therefore ineligible to appear on any CBS game show. The episode never aired, but the other winners kept their prizes.
In a playing of Plinko taped July 22, 2008, a prop official forgot to remove the fishing line used in the filming of a previous promotion for the official video game (so the chip will only fall on the $10,000 slot) before having it readied for game play. A contestant won $30,000 before the mistake was discovered by co-producer Adam Sandler (not the actor). The game was repaired by having the lines removed, and the contestant started at $0. The contestant was allowed to keep the $30,000 because of the violation of procedure, plus the money won during the actual game; however, the $30,000 did not count towards the contestant's cumulative winnings on the show.
During a September 22, 2008 taping, contestant Terry Kneiss made a perfect Showcase bid. CBS Standards and Practices, host Drew Carey, and producer Kathy Greco became highly suspicious that another party in the studio audience had supplied Kneiss with the bid, which then resulted in a stop down as an investigation took place. Although the contestant was ultimately awarded the prizes, the show air date was moved back from its original schedule. As a result of the incident, the show changed its practice regarding prizes, adding up to 30 new prizes which began appearing each taping week. Carey wrote on his blog before the 2009 season premiere that with so few prizes being offered, "It was possible, if one wanted, to watch the show for a while and memorize the price of almost every prize we offered."
Since 2009, CBS Standards and Practices also requires a disclaimer regarding the business interest of host Drew Carey to be mentioned any time a prize features game tickets featuring the Seattle Sounders FC, or a member of the Major League Soccer club presenting any prize on the show, or is mentioned by the host or contestant. If a Sounders prize package is offered in a One Bid, pricing game or in the Showcase, Carey must mention on-air his ownership stake during the bidding. On the December 15, 2010 episode, after a contestant wore Sounders merchandise and the contestant and host talked about the team, the show ran a disclaimer in the credits stating the host's participation in the ownership group of the Sounders. Disclaimers may also be run if other MLS club kits are worn on-air.
Other game shows
Contestants on other game shows, such as Jeopardy! and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, have been brought back on later episodes after a judging error or an error related to question material had been discovered.
In an episode of Press Your Luck, the three players were asked a question regarding which cartoon character used the phrase "Sufferin' Succotash!" After the first contestant buzzed in with the answer "Sylvester", host Peter Tomarken gave two other choices of Goofy and Daffy Duck. The other two contestants all went with Sylvester, but Tomarken said the correct answer was Daffy Duck. In actuality, both Sylvester and Daffy Duck have said the phrase. During post-production of the episode the error was discovered and a taped segment, in which Tomarken got a "phone call" from Looney Tunes voice actor Mel Blanc (in the voice of Sylvester), explained the mistake and that all three contestants would be invited back on future episodes.
- In 1999, a contestant who lost on a Jeopardy! Teen Tournament game on a questionable ruling was ordered brought back for the 2000 College Championship.
- A January 30, 2008 episode of Jeopardy! resulted in Arianna Kelly being brought back on an episode on July 8, 2008 when officials found questionable calls during game play against her during that episode.
Ed Toutant in 2001 was victimized by a bad question:
|$16,000 (9 out of 15) - No time limit|
|Scientists in England recently altered what vegetable so it glows when it needs water?|
|• A: Potato||• B: Tomato|
|• C: Cabbage||• D: Carrots|
Toutant selected Tomato, but the show said it was Potato. It was later found the answer was flawed after further research from Marc Knight, a professor at Oxford University Department of Plant Sciences. The glowing potato was, in fact, developed in Scotland; however, Knight had developed a glowing tomato in England. Therefore, Toutant's answer of tomato was correct. The $860,000 Skins Game jackpot was in use at the time, and he was allowed to play for the million and the skins game jackpot, which he eventually won.
Patrick Hugh won $1,000 during a Season 7 (syndicated) episode, but a critical word in his $25,000 question was found to be misspelled. He was given the option of being awarded $25,000 "no questions asked" or to forfeit his winnings and return to the show and begin his game with a new $25,000 question with all four of his lifelines reinstated. Hugh chose the latter option, used two lifelines (Ask the Audience/Double-Dip) to correctly answer his new $25,000 question, and missed the $50,000 question after using his Phone-a-Friend and Ask-the-Expert lifelines, so he left with $25,000 this time.
On December 20, 2010, Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayi lost $800,000 on a bad question:
- Which of these was sold in stores first?
They decided to risk $800,000 on the Post-it notes. According to the show, the Post-it notes were first sold in 1980 and the Walkman was first sold in 1979. The answer was flawed after Internet research indicated that the Post-its were first tested for sale in four cities in 1977 before their nationwide introduction in 1980. In a statement by executive producer Jeff Apploff, the information obtained by the show's research department was incomplete. Due to this research error, Gabe and Brittany were invited back for a second chance to play the game, even though their question was not the deciding question in their game. A similar situation happened on the UK version in October 2010 on a Doctor Who question.
- Standards and Practices, The Museum of Broadcast Communications
- Are Fox and The NFL Kidding? Apparently Standards and Practices Are... Fluid.