I was watching Deadpool the other night on FX. There's a lot of vulgar language in the movie. However, it was uncensored.

Some movies or shows on TV censor their profanity, while others don't. How is it decided whether or not they will do so?

This is a question about FCC policy, and therefore limited to broadcast television within the United States. Streaming services (like Netflix) are irrelevant here.

1 Answer 1


Broadcast (over-the-air) television in the US must conform to FCC rules (we have something similar here in Canada). Under penalty of fines, content must not exceed certain boundaries. Movies produced for theatrical presentation must be rated; children may not be unaccompanied (if admitted at all) to movies of certain ratings. When a movie (such as Deadpool) originally produced for theaters comes to TV, it must be cleaned up for regular commercial broadcast.

Cable is a different matter. Cable isn't treated like over-the-air broadcast, so is not subject to the same content restrictions. That is why cable-only channels (like FX) will often carry more permissive content. If you're on cable, you might watch a movie on a channel that is basically an over-the-air channel distributed on your cable service, and find the movie heavily censored, but find the same movie presented uncensored on a cable-only channel.

  • So what kind of basic television setup would grant me only these over-the-air channels?
    – JesseTG
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 13:04
  • @JesseTG That probably depends on the service provider you're working with, so you'd have to ask them. I've been told by some people that they've had success getting signal with an antenna (a digital antenna, I presume) even in the year of our lord, 2018, and that should only be OTA, I think.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 14:01
  • @JesseTG that's what you get by default, if you don't pay for a cable, satellite or streaming subscription.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 16:36
  • @Steve-O Technically, all antennas (antenae?) are analog. It's the processing that's digital. Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 18:58
  • @JesseTG The owner's manual for your TV will tell you how to connect an antenna instead of a cable connection. Usually, you attach an antenna wire to the same connection as the cable.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 1:33

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