Censor boxes, such as the one above, may be used along with the bleeps so that the audience would not
the swearer's words. Above, the cartoon says "Oh-", followed by the censor.
Bleeping has been used for many years as a means of
censoring TV programs to remove content not deemed suitable for "family" or "daytime" viewing and personal information for privacy. The bleep censor is a software module, manually operated by a broadcast
technician. A bleep is sometimes accompanied by a digital blur or box over the speaker's mouth in cases where the removed speech may still be easily understood by
closed caption subtitling, bleeped words are usually represented by the phrase "(bleep)", sometimes the phrase "[expletive]" or "[censored]", occasionally
hyphens (e.g. f—k f---), and sometimes
asterisks (e.g. ****, f***, f**k, f*ck, f#@k or f#@%), remaining faithful to the audio track. Where open captions are used (generally in instances where the speaker is not easily understood), a blank is used where the word is bleeped. Occasionally, bleeping is not reflected in the captions, allowing the unedited dialogue to be seen. Sometimes, a "
black bar" can be seen for closed caption bleep.
Bleeping is normally only used in unscripted programs –
panel games etc. – since scripted
comedy are designed to suit the time of broadcast. In the case of comedies, most bleeping may be for humorous purposes, and other sound effects may be substituted for the bleep tone for comical effect, examples of which include a
slide whistle, an infant's cooing, dolphin noises, or a
Other uses of bleep censoring may include
reality television and daytime
talk shows, where identifying information such as ages,
surnames, addresses/hometowns, phone numbers and attempts to advertise a personal business without advanced or appropriate notice will be silenced or bleeped to maintain the subject's privacy (such as seen for subjects arrested in episodes of
films are edited for daytime TV, broadcasters usually prefer not to bleep swearing, but cut out the segment containing it, replace the speech with different words, or cover it with silence or a
sound effect. In the first example, the film may (unintentionally) become nonsensical or confusing if the removed portion contains an element important to the plot. The bleep is sometimes used for privacy reasons, concealing
confidential information such as names and addresses. Bleep censors have seen a rare use in cinema film, for example during Johanna Mason's interview in
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, or during Tony Stark's meeting with Senator Stern in
Iron Man 2.
Bleeping is commonly used in
Japanese-language broadcasting, but is sometimes/rarely used in some other languages (such as
Polish), displaying the varying attitudes between countries; some are more liberal towards swearing, less inclined to use strong profanities in front of a camera in the first place, or unwilling to censor. In the Philippines and Ecuador, undubbed movies on television have profanity muted instead of bleeped.