Broadcast delay

by techtiptom

I was recently asked to explain what Broadcast Delay is, and how it is used… Well, the definition in Wikipedia is a good start: “In radio and television, broadcast delay refers to the practice of intentionally delaying
broadcast of live material. A short delay is often used to prevent profanity, bloopers, violence, or other undesirable material from making it to air, including more mundane problems such as technical malfunctions or coughing. In this instance, it is often referred to as a seven-second delay or profanity delay.”.

Broadcasters (radio and television) have always had a sneeze or cough button that they could press to temporarily mute the microphone. But the introduction of a time delay for other reasons was back in 1952, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. At that time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had a rules that prohibited broadcasting live telephone conversations. Broadcasters could playback a taped phone call, as long as the caller heard a beep every 15 seconds; so he or she would know they were being taped. So Frank Cordaro of WKAP in Allentown developed a tape delay system where the playback head was spaced far enough away from the record head to create a five second delay. The five seconds made it a recording that could be aired, complying with FCC rules…

Since that time, with improvements in broadcasting and computers; broadcast technicians can delay transmission of sound and video at various lengths. This allows either covering undesirable sounds and words with beeps; or jumping past the undesired moment..

Please send your ideas for future blog subjects and possible on-air shows to