What helps make the difference between shows produced for HBO and those on normal American network TV? Well, high-budget cinematic production comes to mind. Tremendous latitude given to show creators to tell the stories they want to tell is another. But I think what we’re all really thinking is uncensored sex and violence.
But apparently not Humaid al Suwaidi, chief executive of eVision, a television service provider owned by Etisalat, the United Arab Emirate’s largest telecommunications company.
While airing the latest episode of Game of Thrones this past Monday, eVision cut the show off and smashed cut to black because the show’s abundant nudity, now, seems to violate UAE laws of decency.
“Those shows are not really suitable for the family because of the nudity scenes,” al Suwaidi said. Typically, his channel responds to these things with black bars and selective editing. “This is a decision as per the prevailing law in the country. Whenever there is nudity, we don’t show it to our viewers because we respect our viewers.”
So were there any angry Thrones viewers? No doubt, and interestingly this is apparently the first time eVision has taken the step of censoring the nudity and violence, they claim breaks national law.
“There’s been nudity, sex and violence all the way through the series,” said a “western expatriate” who declined to be named. “You either show it or you don’t. They’ve got to decide the threshold of tolerance for all this stuff.”
Of further interest, the Orbit Showtime Network, which broadcasts Game of Thrones throughout the Middle East and North Africa, has apparently shown much more scandalous TV than Thrones.
“I’ve seen stuff on OSN that wouldn’t get through on American cable networks,” said Matt Duffy, a journalism professor at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed University. “OSN seems to almost have a European-style approach as to what is permissible.”
Well, I guess it’s nice to know that hypocrisy and double standards for media aren’t a uniquely American phenomenon.