they can't take the chance of running afoul of tougher FCC indecency
enforcement, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Scripps Howard's ABC
affiliates (11 stations in all), the Cox ABC affiliate in Atlanta, WSB,
a Pappas Telecasting station in Nebraska and at least one of Citadel
Communications Corp.'s stations -- WOI Des Moines, Iowa -- confirmed
that they are not planning to air
Saving Private Ryan, ABC's unedited Veteran's Day broadcast
of the Oscar-winning theatrical.
Citadel station, KCAU, Sioux City, Iowa, will air the film, but not
until 10:30 (the indecency "safe harbor" begins at 10 p.m.), instead
running a music special and Return
to Mayberry at 7-10, when
Ryan was to have aired.
The film is
being introduced by Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war John
McCain (R-Ariz), who told B&C he did not think the film was indecent.
Private Ryan is a powerful and important depiction of the sacrifices
made for our country and for freedom during World War II," McCain said.
"While it contains violence and profanity, these are not shown in a
gratuitous manner. The FCC faces the difficult task of determining when
content is indecent, and in my estimation, the content of this film,
aired in the context of a national holiday, paying tribute to our
veterans, and with appropriate warnings to parents, does not come close
to crossing that line."
Hearst-Argyle are also said to be considering preempting the film,
according to executives at other stations. A Cox station executive said
that group is letting individual stations make the call.
decided to run the film on its four affiliates, but only after vetting
it with attorneys "given the new climate," said group head Ed Quinn.
decision to pull or move the show is being billed as a reaction to the
FCC crackdown on indecency.
aired the movie twice (as has WOI)--in 2001 and 2002--both times uncut
and including profanity and graphic violence. Part of their deal with
director Steven Spielberg is that the movie airs uncut.
FCC's standards have changed since then, with the FCC saying profanity
is now actionable, though not necessarily so. ABC says it told worried
stations it would indemnify them against fines, but indecency liability
can involved a station's license as well as its pocketbook.
statement being prepared as a broadcast advisory, WOI-TV President Ray
of you may be aware, the Federal Communications Commission has changed
its standards for certain content related to programming broadcast
before 10 p.m.
These changes followed the Janet Jackson incident at the Super Bowl
earlier this year.
inconsistent manner in which the FCC is choosing to apply these rules
puts TV stations like ours in a most difficult position.
relates to Saving Private Ryan,
our concern centers on whether the FCC would consider the context in
which the intense adult language and graphic battleground violence is
presented in the movie.
FCC conclude that the movie has sufficient social, artistic, literary,
historical or other kinds of value that would protect us from breaking
the law? Can a movie with an “M” rating, however prestigious the
production or poignant the subject matter, be shown before 10 p.m?
the current FCC, we just don’t know. This is the case even though this
same movie has been broadcast in prime time twice before on this station
without complaint. Adding to our frustration is the fact that a fine
motion picture like Saving Private
Ryan can be shown on cable or satellite without any
government agency restriction or regulation.
regret that we are not able to broadcast a patriotic, artistic tribute
to our fighting forces like Saving
Private Ryan. However, on this Veterans Day, we do wish to
pay tribute to all the men and women –past and present –who so nobly
serve our country."
Howard station SVP William Peterson agreed both that it was a fine film
and that his station group couldn't risk airing it, saying in his
contains profanity to help depict the confusion, violence and horror of
combat in the Normandy Invasion. Due to graphic violence and intense
adult language, the movie is rated “TVMA”.
it has been broadcast twice before, recent federal regulatory decisions
on profanity appear to make it clear the Federal Communications
Commission prohibits the broadcast of the type of profanity used in the
movie. Clear unequivocal warnings to viewers about the mature language
and violent content do not appear to mitigate a TV station’s obligation
to prohibit the broadcast of profane language prior to 10 p.m.
not believe we have the contractual right to edit the movie to remove
the profanity and ABC has mandated that the movie be broadcast as
scheduled. If the profanity cannot be edited and the profanity cannot be
broadcast, then the movie will not be cleared for broadcast on our TV
stations in this current regulatory environment.”
had this to say:
affiliates are airing the extraordinary film ‘Saving Private Ryan’
Thursday night in Prime-time. However, Pappas Telecasting Companies has
decided that the interests of the viewers of KHGI, in the
Lincoln-Hastings-Kearney, Nebraska market, are best served by
pre-empting this program.
decision was made reluctantly, and only after Pappas Telecasting sought
permission to edit profane language from this fine film, and such
permission was refused. Other ABC affiliates have reportedly made this
same decision for the following reasons.
viewers know, Pappas Telecasting and its management have been in the
forefront of regulatory efforts to eliminate profanity, indecency, and
gratuitous violence from network programming, particularly during times
when children may be watching.
as is evidenced by recent decisions of the Federal Communications
Commission, stations that air network programming with indecent or
profane content are subject to significant fines and the threat of
license revocation. For these reasons, although we have aired ‘Saving
Private Ryan’ in years past, we are pre-empting it Thursday evening and
instead are airing the feature film ‘Father of the Bride 2,‘ starring
Steve Martin and Diane Keaton, from 7-9 p.m., followed by ‘America’s
Model,’ hosted by Tyra Banks, from 9-10 pm. “
in the day, Motion Picture Association of America President Dan Glickman
was asked during a Q&A about Ryan's
airing uncut on TV. He said he felt it was the kind of movie that ought
to air on television for its realistic portrayal of a soldier's
experience.--Allison Romano contributed to this story.
that do air the movie won't get into trouble with arguably the
highest-profile indecency watchdog, the Parents Television Council,
which says it will file no complaints against Ryan.
everything," said PTC President Brent Bozell. "We agreed with the FCC on
its ruling that the airing of ‘Schindler’s List’ on television was not
indecent and we feel that ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is in the same
category. In both films, the content is not meant to shock, nor is it
gratuitous. We applaud ABC for letting viewers know ahead of time about
the graphic nature of the film and that the film would be uncut."
FCC had not put out any statement in response to the station moves, but
when asked by legislators and others to pass judgment on a Sinclair John
Kerry special before it aired, FCC Chairman Michael Powell pointed out
it would be illegal prior restraint for the FCC to rule on a show's
content before it aired.
Ryan has passed muster before, but that was before the FCC's recent