Strange “Bedford” fellows: WB censors its pilot; serves it uncut on the Web

After the FCC edict last week to let stand the largest-ever fine against broadcast TV stations, the New York Times offers a chilling profile of that decision’s progeny: The soon-to-be subsumed WB TV network has censored Tom Fontana‘s new pilot, “The Bedford Diaries.”

Among the cuts: a scene “that depicted two girls in a bar kissing on a dare and another of a girl unbuttoning her jeans.”

The result of this seems to be two fold: One, everything interesting, or at least prurient, will be online, or on cable beyond the grasp of the FCC, while everything milquetoast will remain on broadcast TV, which will be dead soon enough if Mr. Fontana is to be believed.

“The message here is that they’ll be forced to go alternative ways of looking at shows if they want to see the real thing,” Mr. Fontana said. “It’s like they’re telling people that broadcast television now has much less interesting stuff than you see on the Web or cable.”

The good news, from the FCC’s standpoint, is that if you do this often enough, such shows won’t even get picked up on broadcast TV going forward. Per the Times: “One senior network program executive said it would now be unlikely that a show with the subject matter of “The Bedford Diaries” would be ordered by a network.”

We have a sneaking suspicion that this is what Emerson meant when he said that “the government that governs best is the one that governs least.”