Stations Refuse to Air Film
A number of ABC affiliates announced Thursday that they would not take part in the network’s Veterans Day airing of “Saving Private Ryan,” saying the acclaimed film’s violence and language could draw sanctions from the Federal Communications Commission.
Stations replacing the movie with other programming Thursday included stations owned by Cox Television in Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., and three Midwest stations owned by Citadel Communications. Other stations that decided not to air the movie included WGNO-TV of New Orleans, owned by Tribune Broadcasting Corp., and WMUR-TV of Manchester, N.H., owned by Hearst-Argyle Television Inc.
Eight stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group and four owned by the Belo Corp. also skipped the movie.
“Under strict interpretation of the rules, we can’t run that programming before 10 p.m.,” said Ray Cole, president of Citadel, which owns WOI-TV in Des Moines, KCAU-TV in Sioux City and KLKN-TV in Lincoln, Neb.
The Oscar-winning film includes a violent depiction of the D-Day invasion and profanity. ABC, which broadcast the film uncut in 2001 and 2002, issued a statement saying it was proud to broadcast it again.
The network’s contract with director Steven Spielberg stipulates that the film cannot be edited.
In a statement on its website, Atlanta’s WSB-TV cited a ruling in which the FCC said an expletive uttered by rock star Bono during NBC’s live airing of the 2003 Golden Globe Awards was both indecent and profane.
The agency made it clear then that virtually any use of the F-word -- which is used in “Saving Private Ryan” -- was inappropriate for over-the-air radio and television.