Tennessee Alumnus

I Swear

I Swear

The degree to which profanity on TV offends you may depend on which channel you watch.

A recent study out of UT Knoxville and Florida State University found that some TV viewers believe swearing on premium channels and cable is less offensive than the same language on broadcast channels. And breaking the data down further, viewers are more tolerant of swearing on the premium channels than on cable channels.

The new study differs from previous research that found the channel through which profanity reaches people doesn’t affect its level of offensiveness.

Authors Daniel Shafer and the late Barry Sapolsky, both from Florida State, and Barbara Kaye, from UT Knoxville’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media, indicated that viewers find sexually suggestive words most offensive and excretory language only moderately offensive.

The increased use of colorful language on TV may make vulgarity more the norm, as might the increasing lack of distinction between broadcast and cable channels, the authors wrote.