Scaring Private Ryan: 20 ABC Affiliates Nix Movie
By Andrea WoodYOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Television stations in Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland were among more than 20 ABC affiliates that refused to carry last night's broadcast of "Saving Private Ryan," their parent companies fearing fines from the Federal Communications Commission over the movie's violence and crude language. But the ABC affiliate in the Mahoning Valley, WYTV, had no qualms about broadcasting the movie -- its parent company seeing no reason for concern.The movie, which begins with a 20-minute depiction of the Normandy invasion during World War II, was broadcast in its entirety on Veterans Day 2001and Veterans Day 2002, explained Dave Trabert, general manager of WYTV. Its rebroadcast last night, to commemorate Veterans Day 2004, was endorsed by the Parents TV Council and introduced by U.S. Sen. John McCain, a decorated Vietnam War veteran."I have to wonder whether there would be any concern if there hadn't been the Super Bowl incident -- Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction," Trabert said.Jackson's baring of her breast, which she lamely explained as a problem with her costume, resulted in the FCC fining 20 CBS-owned television stations $27,500 each for violating the agency's decency rules. CBS is appealing the fines.The f-word is said throughout "Saving Private Ryan" and the use of that word by rock star Bono during a recent NBC broadcast was found by the FCC also to violate its decency rules.Among the broadcast companies that barred its ABC affiliates from broadcasting the movie were Cox Television, Belo Corp., Hearst-Argyle, Scripps Howard Broadcasting, Tribune Broadcasting, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Citadel Communications. Citadel's president, Ray Cole, said in a news release that the FCC has changed its content standards since "Saving Private Ryan" was first broadast. Citadel attempted get an advance waiver from the FCC to rebroadcast the movie, he added, but was turned down."Under strict interpretation of the indecency rules," Cole explained, "we do not see any way possible to air this movie. To be put in this position is unfortunate, and reflects the timidity that exists at the commission right now."WYTV's Trabert said he saw the likliehood of FCC fines very remote. "It would be difficult" for the FCC to fine stations for broadcasting the moving tonight "after not finding it to be a problem in the past," he explained.ABC told its affiliates it would pay any FCC fines they might incur from broadcasting the movie. Station executives quoted by various publications said even if money were not an issue, they could not risk a fine because it would be construed as a black mark at license renewal time. Contact Andrea Wood at email@example.com"
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