ABC Affiliate Raises Indecency Concerns Over 'Private Ryan'
Doug Halonen (Television Week)
Citing indecency concerns, ABC affiliate WOI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa, announced Wednesday that it will pre-empt the ABC TV Network's broadcast of "Private Ryan" Thursday evening-even though the broadcast was supposed to commemorate Veterans Day and the movie was widely considered to be a major artistic success.
"We regret that we are not able to broadcast a patriotic, artistic tribute to our fighting forces like 'Saving Private Ryan,' said Raymond Cole, WOI president. In a statement, Mr. Cole said the station's key concern is whether the movie-which contains adult language and graphic battleground violence-would run afoul of the Federal Communications Commission's new anti-indecency standards.
"Would the FCC conclude that the movie has sufficient social, artistic, literary, historical or other kinds of value that would protect us from breaking the law?" said Mr. Cole. "Can a movie with an 'M' rating, however prestigious the production or poignant the subject matter, be shown before 10 p.m.? With the current FCC, we just don't know."
Mr. Cole also said the station is concerned even though it has broadcast the movie in prime time twice previously 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," Mr. Cole said. Also in his statement, Mr. Cole said other ABC TV affiliates in Boston, Orlando and Atlanta have also decided to pre-empt the movie.
In its own statement, ABC TV said it is proud to present the Academy Award-winning film again.
"In keeping with the first two Veterans Day commemorative telecasts in 2001 and 2002, this third telecast of 'Saving Private Ryan,' a true-to-life historical drama that depicts the harrowing and devastating realities of the men who fought to protect our country during World War II, will air in its complete, unedited theatrical version," ABC TV said. "As in the past, this broadcast will contain appropriate and clear advisories and parental guidelines, and, as customary, we will provide advance screenings for ABC affiliates and advertisers. The groundbreaking movie carries a TV-MA,L,V parental guideline."