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Oscars censored in 53 Asian nations

February 25, 2009 |  3:48 pm

The day after the Oscars, Keith Olbermann exulted in the bold expressions of free speech on the kudocast. He said on MSNBC, "If last night had been the 2003 Oscars, Dustin Lance Black, Bill Maher and Sean Penn probably would have spent the day raked over the coals by the yapping toadies of the media-government complex. Screw the toadies. They lost and free speech won!"

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But not so on TV seen on the other side of the world.

Much of India was tuned in to the Oscars to see the victories by "Slumdog Millionaire," but they didn't get the whole telecast.

Asian satellite TV network STAR, owned by Rupert Murdoch, admits that it censored the acceptance speeches of "Milk" writer Dustin Lance Black and star Sean Penn in re-broadcasts, eliminating sound when the words "gay" or "lesbian" were spoken, because it had "a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration," spokeswoman Jannie Poon told the Associated Press. STAR reaches more than 300 million viewers in 53 nations.

However, a tipster tells Defamer.com that the words were also edited out of live broadcasts in India, but he doesn't identify the offending TV network.

Pang Khee Teik, a prominent Malaysian arts commentator, wrote a letter of protest to several media organizations, according to the AP. He said the gagging "sent a message ... that gays and lesbians are still shameful things to be censored from the public's ears."

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