One of the many, many things we love about Game of Thrones is its ability to hold nothing back in the mature content department. We can't imagine what the show would be like without all the blood, blades and breasts that HBO allows for. But some foreign broadcasters aren't so impressed, and one was so concerned with the show's nudity that it pulled the plug in the middle of a new episode.
Viewers in the United Arab Emirates were left staring at blank screens Monday night after the their television service provider cut the show off in the middle of a second season episode, claiming the nudity in the show violates UAE law.
Game of Thrones is broadcast throughout the MIddle East and North Africa by the Orbit Showtime Network, a Dubai-based network that broadcasts the episodes with minimal editing. The decision to yank the show came not from the network, but from eVision, a service own by Etisalat, the UAE's largest telecommunications company.
Humaid Al Suwaidi, eVision's chief executive, said his company routinely blacks out shows and replaces programs in its schedule over nudity concerns.
"Those shows are not really suitable for the family because of the nudity scenes," he said. "This is a decision as per the prevailing law in the country. Whenever there is nudity, we don't show it to our viewers because we respect our viewers."
Not surprisingly, more than a few eVision customers were angry when their TVs were suddenly blank Monday night, and some claim that eVision has never black out nudity (or violence, for that matter) in a Game of Thrones episode before.
"There's been nudity, sex and violence all the way through the series," said a "western expatriate" who decliend to be named. "You either show it or you don't. They've got to decide the threshold of tolerance for all this stuff."
Others note that they've seen content on the OSN network before that would put Game of Thrones to shame, and it was never censored either.
"I've seen stuff on OSN that wouldn't get through on American cable networks," said Matt Duffy, a professor or journalism at Abu Dhabi's Zayed University. "OSN seems to almost have a European-style approach as to what is permissible."
Another rival television service, du, has also spoken out about the controversy, taking advantage of the situation by claiming that, unlike eVision, they don't yank things off the air due to content.
"We do not block any OSN content, as users subscribe to their pay TV channels to view certain programmes," a du spokesman said. "We offer [a] parental control facility to our TV viewers through which customers are empowered to block TV content such as Game of Thrones on their own."
We know other countries have much more stringent views when it comes to nudity on TV, but this decision raises a couple of questions. First, had no one at eVision seen the show before? You'd think that if this were going to happen, it would have happened way back in season one, maybe even episode one. Second, is this less about the show in general and more about where season two is headed? Season one was definitely mature, but so far in season two we've seen both the sexmagic antics of Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and some extended trips inside a King's Landing brothel. Maybe last season seemed much tamer to eVision's standards department.
Now the question becomes whether or not viewer complaints will get eVision to cave and put the show back on the air. If not, there seems to be a rival network ready to pick up some dissatisfied customers.
(Via The National)