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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 13:46 GMT
Director slams TV 'intimidation'
Matthew Modine (l) in The Bedford Diaries
The show stars Matthew Modine (l) as a human behaviour professor
Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson has criticised the US broadcast regulator for "intimidating" a US TV network into censoring his new series.

The Bedford Diaries, on the WB network, was due to air with girls kissing and a female character opening her jeans.

But Mr Levinson, who is producing the show, said some scenes had been cut for fear of being fined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

"The network is very fearful of what the FCC has been doing," he said

"They're intimidating the networks and levying these fines, so the networks are not sure of what they can or can't do."

In the series, a group of students in a human behaviour class are given the assignment of keeping diaries of their sexual experiences.

The network is streaming an unedited version of the pilot episode on its website.

Sexual orgy

Last week the US government proposed a total of $3.9m (2.2m) in new fines as part of its crackdown on what it considers indecency on television.

They included a record $3.6m (2.1m) for an episode of Without a Trace that depicted a teenage sexual orgy, to be shared between more than 100 television stations affiliated to the CBS network.

Barry Levinson
Levinson's films include Rain Man and Good Morning Vietnam
It was this, claimed Levinson, that compelled the network to make cuts the show's makers had previously refused for being "out of the bounds of logic".

"You can't even argue it," he said. "In its context, the show doesn't advocate any behaviour.

"But the FCC doesn't look at anything in context. They're upset that two girls kissed, period."

"We have always been mindful of the FCC's indecency rules," said the network in a statement.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to make some additional changes."

In an interview with the New York Times, co-writer Tom Fontana said that decision sent out a clear message to viewers.

"It's like they're telling people that broadcast television now has much less interesting stuff than you see on the web or cable."

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