Dave Chappelle’s Saturday Night Live outing was everything advertised and somehow more. A lot more. This cathartic shared late night experience earned critical raves, season-high ratings and (less positively) a decidedly active censor in North Carolina.
Variety reports that Raleigh’s NBC affiliate played censor on numerous occasions last night. At least nine incidents of censorship were said to have taken place on the station with audio removed (or attempted to be removed) during Chappelle’s monologue, the Walking Dead sketch and another piece featuring Chappelle, Leslie Jones and Kyle Mooney. Variety notes that a certain infamous word used by the president-elect made it through during the monologue before it could be edited, so local viewers got an added spotlight on it.
WRAL-TV issued a statement stressing that the censorship was the result of the affiliate’s policy and not the choice of NBC.
“WRAL-TV has a station obscenity, decency and profanity policy that outlines 10 specific words that will not be broadcast on our air. This policy is based on our own standards in combination with FCC guidelines. Our broadcast operators have a 10-second delay button they can choose to use. During Saturday Night Live on NBC, guest host Dave Chappelle used 2 of those words on 9 different occasions and they were silenced,” the station said in a statement. “Obviously, SNL is a live show so we had no prior indication about what would be said during the broadcast. We understand this caused disruption during the program. We wanted our audience to know this was a station decision, not the network’s, and why we made that choice.”
We’d like to send our apologies to those of you who will spend a good chunk of today trying to sort out which “10 specific words” are forbidden at the affiliate.
Affiliates playing censor is nothing new and people taking notice of said censorship is nothing new either. It’s nothing to be caught off-guard about, but it will be interesting to see if approaches to censorship will be different with Donald Trump in the White House. Trump, a recent host of the program, has slammed Saturday Night Live for doing what he considered to be a “hit job” on him and urged the show to pack it in.