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Encyclopedia > Watershed (television)

Watershed is a term used in the United Kingdom (as well as Canada) to describe a time in television schedules beyond which it is permissible to show television programmes which have 'adult content'. It is known in the US as "Safe Harbor". Adult content can be generally defined as having at least some nudity, explicit sexual intercourse, graphic violence, strong language, or drug references or use. The term adult describes any mature organism, but normally it refers to a human: one that is no longer a child / minor and is now either a man or a woman. ... The United States of America — also referred to as the United States, the U.S.A., the U.S., America, the States, or (archaically) Columbia—is a federal republic of 50 states located primarily in central North America (with the exception of two states: Alaska and Hawaii). ... Line art depictions of a man and a woman designed to educate extraterrestrials about the appearance of the human body. ... Coition of a Hemisected Man and Woman (c. ... Violence refers to acts of aggression and abuse which causes or intends to cause criminal injury or harm to persons, and (to a lesser extent) animals and property. ... Look up Profanity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Recreational drug use is the use of psychoactive drugs for recreational purposes rather than for work, medical or spiritual purposes, although the distinction is not always clear. ...


Watershed Times

United Kingdom and Ireland

According to Ofcom, the watershed on standard television starts at 9:00pm, and finishes at 5:30am the next morning. On premium film or pay-per-view services requiring a subscription, the watershed starts at 8:00pm. The Office of Communications, usually known as Ofcom, is the UKs communications regulator. ...

There should be a gentle transition to adult material, and 18-rated material is not allowed to be shown before 10:00pm.

See also: The Ofcom Broadcasting Code - Section 1


The watershed starts at 9:00pm, and finishes at 6:00am the next morning. Sexually explicit content, offensive or strong language and other adult material is not allowed outside the watershed.

See also: Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

United States

The watershed (or "Safe Harbor") begins at 10:00pm and finishes at 6:00am the next morning (all time zones), though some content (explicit human sexual intercourse and frontal nudity, for example) is never allowed by the FCC rules; note that FCC rules only apply to channels broadcast terrestrially and not those only available on cable, such as certain restricted-access networks (like the premium channels HBO and Showtime and adult channels Playboy TV and Spice). Some of the most infamous scenes of American television (like the naked cast of NYPD Blue) happened at the 10:00pm-11:00pm hour; however, these broadcasts were before the Safe Harbor in the Central and Mountain time zones, where programming scheduled for 10:00pm EST would typically be broadcast starting at 9:00pm (using a one-hour tape delay in Mountain time). The abbreviation FCC can refer to: Face-centered cubic (usually fcc), a crystallographic structure Federal Communications Commission, a US government organization Farm Credit Corporation/Farm Credit Canada, a Canadian government organization Families with Children from China, an adoption support organization Florida Christian College, a college in central Florida Fresno City... Terrestrial television (also known as over-the-air, OTA, or broadcast television) is the traditional method of television broadcast signal delivery, by radio waves transmitted through open space, usually carrying unencrypted signals. ... HBO (Home Box Office) is a premium cable television network with headquarters in New York City. ... Showtime is a subscription television brand used by a number of channels and platforms around the world, but primarily refers to a group of channels in the United States. ... Dennis Franz and David Caruso on the NYPD Blue first season DVD cover NYPD Blue was a long-running American television police drama set in New York City. ...  CST or UTC-6 The Central Standard Time Zone (CST) is a geographic region in the Americas that keeps time by subtracting six hours from UTC (UTC-6). ... MST is UTC-7 The Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST) is a geographic region that keeps time by subtracting seven hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), resulting in UTC-7. ... The Eastern Standard Time Zone is a geographic region that keeps time by subtracting five hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). ...

Because the FCC interprets safe harbor times as local time, some networks would get fined for complying with the law in one part of the country, while breaking the law in other time zones, Such was the case with CBS, who was fined US$3.63 million for a repeat episode of Without a Trace in December 2004, which was televised at 10PM in the Eastern and Pacific time zones (within the watershed), but at 9PM in Central and Mountain times (outside the watershed). It's these time zones that led the FCC to issue the fines, to be split among 111 CBS affiliates covering these time zones. [1] CBS (formerly an acronym for Columbia Broadcasting System, the former legal name of the network) is one of the largest television networks, and formerly one of the largest radio networks, in the United States. ... Without a Trace is an American television show set in New York City. ...

In the 1970s, the ill-fated Family Viewing Hour tried to make the 8:00pm-9:00pm hour safe for family consumption, but was overturned in court due to the way it was instituted. The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive. ... The Family Viewing Hour was an idea mandated by the Federal Communications Commission in 1975, stating that each television network in the United States has a responsibility to air family friendly programming in the first hour of the primetime lineup (8:00 to 9:00 p. ...


On Australian television MA 15+ programmes are not allowed to be shown before 9.30pm at night. Unfortunately due to the presence of daylight savings in New South Wales and not in Queensland and the fact that some stations that broadcast into southern Queensland from northern New South Wales(specifically the Gold Coast) it effectively pushed the watershed time back to 8.30pm. Due to complaints from concerned citizens these stations were forced to broadcast as per local time. Daylight saving time (also called DST, or summer time) is the portion of the year in which a regions local time is advanced by (usually) one hour from its official standard time. ... Emblems: Floral - Waratah (Telopea Speciosissima); Bird - Kookaburra (Dacelo Gigas); Animal - Platypus (Ornithorhynchus Anatinus); Fish - Blue Groper (Achoerodus Viridis) Motto: Orta Recens Quam Pura Nites (Newly Risen, How Brightly You Shine) Slogan or Nickname: First State, Premier State Other Australian states and territories Capital Sydney Government Governor Premier Const. ... Emblems: Faunal - Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus); Floral - Cooktown orchid (Dendrobium bigibbum); Bird - Brolga (Grus rubicunda); Aquatic - Barrier Reef Anemonefish (Amphiprion akindynos); Gem - Sapphire; Colour - Maroon Motto: Audax at Fidelis (Bold but Faithful) Slogan or Nickname: Sunshine State, Smart State Other Australian states and territories Capital Brisbane Government Const. ...

Since its inception in 1995 Pay TV channel Adults Only has only broadcast from 10.45pm (9.45pm at times) until 4.45am although it is advertised until 6am it broadcasts only a test signal in the intervening time. However since the inception of Adults Only select (a pay-per-view service) in 2004, it has all but eliminated the watershed time. 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Pay-per-view is the name given to a system by which television viewers can call and order events to be seen on TV and pay for the private telecast of that event to their homes later. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

See also Adult Swim The Adult Swim logo Adult Swim, usually rendered [adult swim] on bumps and frequently abbreviated either [AS] or [as], is the name for the adult-oriented television programming block on Cartoon Network. ...

External links

  • The Ofcom Broadcasting Code - Section 1
  • Canadian Broadcast Standards Council - What is the Watershed?



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