The British television control agency, the Independent Television Commission, or ITC for short, has issued a statement to media outlets that war-related content which many stir up public sentiment should be taken off the air. Several media groups are complying with the decision, most notably MTV Europe, drawing up lists of songs and videos which will temporarily be removed from broadcast. Not surprisingly, The Cranberries’ “Zombie” is among the list.
In an internal memo released a week ago by MTV Europe’s Broadcast Standards Manager Mark Sunderland reads, “In the light of the outbreak of war in Iraq in the last 12 hours… there will be heightened public sensitivity to representations of war, soldiers, bombing, destruction of buildings and public unrest at home. The ITC Programme Code requires us not to broadcast material which offends against good taste or is offensive to public feeling. We therefore recommend that videos featuring the following are not shown at the moment: war, soldiers, war planes, bombs, missiles, riots and social unrest, executions, [and] other obviously sensitive material.” Anyone who has seen the video for “Zombie” will know well that it violates several of the qualifiers in this list.
Other artists and videos specifically mentioned are below. Many of the songs, like Tom Jones’ “Sex Bomb” or videos by the B-52s are being censored simply on the basis of their title alone.
» “Boom!” by System of a Down
» “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith (contains footage from the movie “Armageddon”)
» “So Why So Sad” by Manic Street Preachers
» “Miss Sarajevo” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2
» “This Ain’t a Love Song” by Bon Jovi
» “Corruption” by Iggy Pop
» “19′′ by Paul Hardcastle
» “Lucky” and “Invasion” by Radiohead
» “Hot in the City” by Billy Idol
» “Koochy” by Armand van Helden
» “Thug Holidy” by Trick Daddy
» “B.O.B. [Bombs over Baghdad]” by Outkast
» “Holy Wars” by Megadeath
» “You, Me, and World War Three” by Gavin Friday
» Any videos by the B-52’s, who share a name with the war plane
» “American Life” by Madonna
» “Sex Bomb” by Tom Jones
“It’s not a ban,” says a spokesman for MTV’s international divisions. “It didn’t come from programming. We’re complying with ITC guidelines on good taste, to avoid offending public feeling.”
“Like any other broadcaster we feel it is important to reflect current sensitivities. Any changes to the playlist will be temporary,” said another spokesperson. MTV Europe implied that the censorship will be lifted once the Iraqi conflict is over.
But it is apparent that the list of taboo songs is only being used currently by MTV Europe. “We’re not banning anything,” said a representative for MTV in the United States. “We’re being sensitive to the situation, in general and on a case-by-case basis.”
Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, MTV Italy is paying no heed to the actions of its UK sister station. They kicked off a day-long focus dedicated entirely to the Iraqi conflict, playing pacificst videos and showing clips of celebrities speaking to the audience about the war. “Zombie” has been played several times throughout the day.
American radio stations employed a similar blacklist of songs immediately after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was also included in that list.
Other UK media outlets, like the behemoth Radio One and rival station Xfm, are also toning down the amount of music played that contains “sensitive content.”
Sources: Cranberries Videography, TV Barn, Times Online, Rolling Stone