thanks janet: FCC sucks big time
more on the FCC flap from newsblues.com:
SHAMING PRIVATE RYAN
More than two dozen ABC affiliates have announced that they won't take part in tonight's Veterans Day airing of "Saving Private Ryan," fearing the film's violence and language could draw sanctions from the FCC.
The decisions mark a twist in the conflict over the aggressive stand the FCC has taken against obscenity and profanity since Janet Jackson flashed the world during the last Super Bowl half time show.
Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning movie aired on ABC with relatively little controversy in 2001 and 2002, but station owners — including several in large markets — are unnerved that airing it Thursday could bring federal punishment.
"It would clearly have been our preference to run the movie. We think it's a patriotic, artistic tribute to our fighting forces," said Ray Cole, president of Citadel Communications. The company owns WOI-5 in Des Moines, KCAU-9 in Sioux City and KLKN-8 in Lincoln, Neb.
Other stations choosing to replace the movie with other programming include Atlanta's WSB-2; WFTV-9 in Orlando; WFAA-8 of Dallas; WGNO-26 of New Orleans; WCPO-9 of Cincinnati; WSYX-6 of Columbus, WISN-12 of Milwaukee; WSOC-9 of Charlotte; WVEC-13 of Norfolk; WMUR-9 of Manchester, N.H.; WHAS-11 of Louisville; and KVUE-24 of Austin.
They are owned by a variety of companies, including Cox Television, Tribune Broadcasting, Hearst-Argyle Television, Belo Corp. and Sinclair Broadcast Group. The number is expected to increase today, and some are speculating that ABC may be forced to take further steps before broadcast time (8-11 p.m.)
"We regret that the FCC, given its current timidity in dealing in this area, would not grant an advance waiver, which would have allowed stations like ours to run it without any question or any concern," Cole said. "We have attempted to get an advanced waiver from the FCC and, remarkably to me, they are not willing to do so."
The FCC has made it clear that any airing of the F-word is considered inappropriate for broadcast television.
The first half hour of "Saving Private Ryan" includes a brutally violent depiction of the D-Day invasion. The film also contains extensive profanity. The network's contract with director Spielberg stipulates that the film cannot be edited.
According to Cox's Atlanta station general manager, Greg Stone, the company asked ABC for permission to edit the film or air it outside prime time but was turned down.
ABC has told its affiliates it will cover any fines, but group owners are worried that the network can not protect them against other FCC sanctions.
Profane speech, which is barred from broadcast between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., is defined by the FCC as language that is "so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance," or epithets that tend "to provoke violent resentment."
The guidelines say the context in which such material appears is of critical importance.
Cole cited recent FCC actions and last week's re-election of President Bush as reasons for replacing "Saving Private Ryan" with a music program and the TV movie "Return to Mayberry."
"We're just coming off an election where moral issues were cited as a reason by people voting one way or another and, in my opinion, the commissioners are fearful of the new Congress," Cole said.