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Network TV Profits Would Probably Increase With Nudity And Swear Words

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This week has been a week of confirming what analysts had expected about Rupert Murdoch: he's making money -- but not really on TV.

Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said Tuesday he expects "somewhat less robust growth" in the fiscal year ending next June because consumers are being hurt by higher energy costs, the U.S. real estate crisis and the battered financial industry.


Murdoch said there are "considerable financial challenges" in local advertising for the company's newspaper and television businesses, but that gains in cable networks, satellite television and online properties will more than offset that.

So Wired's Epicenter blog has done a little logic problem and discovered that the key differences between network TV and cable TV are indecency and profit. Heck, even Mark Cuban was recently talking about how YouTube won't last unless it figures out a way to monetize user-generated "mature" content. You know. Non-gratuitous nudity. (So, not like YouPorn.) But enough about Mark Cuban and nudity -- here's an excerpt from Epicenter:

"Without a doubt, the business model of network television is suffering from competition with other channels who operate with fewer content restrictions," says Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture and television at Syracuse University. "This country's obsession with not uttering naughty words and not talking about s-e-x is borderline psychotic. Strike that, it is psychotic."

While the major networks struggle to create compelling content that meets the FCC's rigid decency standards, HBO, Showtime and AMC have pumped out profitable hits such as The Sopranos, Sex & The City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Weeds and Mad Men -- shows that could not exist on broadcast television. And not only is the public accepting of the adult content, many people pay to watch it.

So can the networks fight the FCC successfully enough to sneak a buttock on air? And to be profitable enough that GE, perhaps an endangered empire, isn't having to swear it won't spin NBC off all the time?