November 19, 2006

NBC Censoring Veggie Tales?

I'm an online survey respondent for Zogby. The latest poll contains this question:

NBC recently cut references to God and the Bible from the popular children's television show, Veggie Tales, which encourages moral behavior based on Christian and biblical principles. NBC claimed the goal was to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view. Do you agree or disagree with NBC's decision?

A later question reads:
NBC has cut from the children's television program Veggie Tales, the words "Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much," because people might find them offensive? Are you offended or are you not offended by these words?

(And, of course, that's the most offensive message anyone every heard. Give me a break. Even if you're an atheist, how can you be offended by that? Would you be offended if someone told your children "Superman made you special, and he loves you very much?")

I could not find any information on this on the Big Idea web-site, though I did find a list of TV show times. The schedule shows that they played "King George and the Ducky" and "Larry Boy and the Bad Apple" yesterday. I am quite certain the former of the two contains reference to God and the Bible. I've saw the latter recently (on video), and I think they included their normal Bible verse at the end, but I don't remember for sure, because the Larry Boy episodes are often different from the normal ones. The new Veggie Tales video is Gideon: Tuba Warrior, so clearly they haven't abandoned their Bible story thing altogether. So, if NBC is airing Veggie Tales without God and Bible references, they must be censoring them. Can anyone confirm this?

Posted by Kenny at November 19, 2006 12:30 AM
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You should read the whole story at Phil Vischer's blog. The history of the Big Idea/Jellyfish/NBC relations is a little complicated, with a lot of miscommunication and a serious lack of understanding of what Veggie Tales was even like on the part of NBC. They had basically thought it was just teaching moral principles and thus didn't give Vischer any impression that they might find anything objectionable. They ended up telling him they needed anything cut if it involved any connection between God or the Bible and how you ought to live your life. Bible stories could be allowed, but they had to remove anything that implied that because the Bible says it it's true or that because God wants you to do something you should do it.

He had already begun writing and producing the new material when he found out they were going to cut out parts that he didn't want to remove, but it was too late then, and he decided it would be better to expose kids to these characters so they would buy the DVDs than it would be to back out of a contract at that late stage and after putting in so much work. They started out with easy stuff like the non-biblical bits that simply teach moral principles. But they knew it was going to get more difficult as they had to move to the older catalog that was largely Bible stories or outright Christian teaching.

But the ratings have been so good, both compared to the other so-called values programming in the same block of time and compared to other kids' programming on NBC and on other networks, that NBC apparently has been relaxing their standards. The last two shows submitted were King George and the Ducky and Madame Blueberry, both of which had references to God in violation of what NBC earlier said they would allow. They accepted both episodes as submitted by Big Idea, with no changes or edits. So apparently they've gone back on this.

Posted by: Jeremy Pierce at November 19, 2006 7:57 AM

That's horrible!

Posted by: Lauren at November 19, 2006 1:10 PM

I should say that they haven't cut much out. They've replaced the kitchen counter top scenes with scenes at Bob's house. Otherwise it's only been very small things, because the only parts they were using were from stories where there wasn't much to cut out. Now that they're getting to the ones where it makes a difference, they're not cutting anything. Interesting, isn't it?

Posted by: Jeremy Pierce at November 19, 2006 9:32 PM

Hmm... I wonder what made them decide that? Maybe the first run was successful, and they decided it wasn't practical to keep running them cut in the ones with more Christian content.

Posted by: Kenny at November 19, 2006 9:34 PM

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