The Federal Communications Commission continues to make waves in broadcast TV and radio. News of the FCC campaign against indecency has fallen off considerably since Janet Jackson's breast-baring at the 2004 Super Bowl, but the government agency is still cracking down. Earlier this month, the commission proposed levying a $3.6 million fine against CBS
It should be noted, though, that the FCC's actions also appear to be creating opportunities for new media. The most obvious example of this is Howard Stern's move from Viacom's
This week, the WB broadcast a new show called The Bedford Diaries. Its provocative premise revolves around a college class on sexuality in which students keep a video diary concerning their sex lives. The show's focus naturally garnered it plenty of publicity and, not surprisingly, controversy.
Controversy is often a good thing for a new show, but Reuters reports that the executives at WB were spooked by the heavy fines looming over CBS. They sought to scrap some racier bits, but The Bedford Diaries' executive producers resisted making cuts to the show. So the parties came to a compromise: The edited show was aired on regular TV on Wednesday, but the WB made an unedited version available on its website in streaming video.
Although this Bedford incident was born from the threat of government penalty, it's hard to believe that the WB, which will soon be merged with CBS's UPN to create the CW network, doesn't see the potential revenue to be gained from making two versions of the same TV show available. After all, offering regular and "director's cut" DVDs is already an established practice. The Bedford Diaries may be the first time an unedited version of a TV show is made available online, but given the potential for Web video advertising, it probably won't be the last.
Time Warner is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Take a free trial to see what else Tom and David Gardner are recommending.
Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.