Patriotism and a Four-Letter Word

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, November 11th, 2004
From TV Watch--Full Frontal TV (A Media Critique by Wayne Friedman)

TO ALL THOSE TV PRESSURE groups that helped the FCC become a reactionary organization, those that egged a response to Janet Jackson's half-time Super Bowl escapade and to Howard Stern -- I can only say: I hope you're happy. Now the fun really starts. Viewer Discretion is STRONGLY Advised

ABC stations in 35 percent of the country won't air "Saving Private Ryan" because of some profane utterances. The FCC has networks jumping due to the stricter rules - in which radio and television could be quick to get fines for improper content.

When ABC ran "Ryan" in 2001 and 2002 there was one complaint from a media religious pressure group. But few had anything to say against the highly regarded movie from director Steven Spielberg. Technically the FCC forbids vulgar language on broadcast stations between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., but the FCC ruled that the movie wasn't "indecent" in 2002.

Even this time around, the Parents Television Council deemed it acceptable because the language was used in proper context. "Ryan" is scheduled to run at 8 p.m. tonight.

So now what?

We can't turn back the clock on any of this - including the 'morality' vote that supposedly helped the Republicans continue their stay at the White House last week.

And all this could mess with business - the advertising business. Stations are antsy to air any provocative programs. Advertisers, as a result, will be nervous to buy any programming with the slightest content infraction.

ABC Veteran's Day SpecialThat's not a thriving business position for broadcast stations. The advertising market isn't secure right now - especially heading into a non-political, non-Olympic year.

If voters wanted to scare television programmers, they are doing a great job. But that cuts both ways. Consumer products companies will be loathe in making risky marketing decisions; that can keep sales low. And if companies can't grow revenues, they won't be able to hire people for jobs, which in turn, would help turn the economy around.

"Saving Private Ryan" is a tough, graphic portrayal of the lives of World War II soldiers on D-Day. In the light of what is going on in Iraq, it's a great tribute today -- Veterans Day -- as well as a thought-provoking piece about what war is really about.

Yet stations are paranoid to air it, bogged down with fears that a regulatory agency - one from the federal government that also sends troops to war -- could fine them.

And, apparently, this all stems from patriotism. ABC7 Thursday at 8pm


NOTE: KABC-TV is an ABC owned and operated station; therefore, it will broadcast tonight's Veteran's Day Special Presentation in full, unedited, with limited commercial interruptions.

While you vote, remember that Private Ryan has passed muster before,

but that was before the FCC's recent "profanity crackdown."


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