Political Rants by Judy @ 7:07 AM
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This statement come from Pappas Telecasting Companies, one of the companies that declined to air Saving Private Ryan on its ABC affiliates last night:

Many ABC 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.

[…]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. Moreover, 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 Next Top Model,’ hosted by Tyra Banks, from 9-10 pm.

I could argue that, as a viewer, my interests are best served by allowing me to decide for myself whether or not to watch a show. I could argue that the violence and profanity in Private Ryan are not gratuitous. I could argue that Father of the Bride 2 and America’s Next Top Model are rather strange choices to honor our veterans.

But here’s what really gets my goat.

Saving Private Ryan aired on ABC in both 2001 and 2002. There was a complaint. It was disallowed. Yet the more than 20 ABC affiliates that declined to air Ryan this year are pleading fear of fines and citing the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” incident during the Superbowl half time show, and Bono’s use of the “F” word during the Golden Globes as examples of the FCC’s crack-down.

The infamous “wardrobe malfunction” may have been planned by Jackson, but was apparently a surprise to the broadcaster. It was a very brief breast shot (with covered nipple), missed by many viewers, during an event that was peppered with ads for medications promising relief from erectile disfunction. Bono’s effish utterance was, likewise, a one-time, short occurance, unplanned by the broadcaster. It would have been difficult in either case for the broadcasters to air warning to viewers.

Not to state the obvious, but Saving Private Ryan is a movie. It is a planned event, shown on station schedules, and aired with disclaimers and warning regarding the language and violence. Viewers can make an informed choice whether or not to watch, and whether or not to allow their children to watch. If they don’t like it, they can change the channel (what a concept!).

Comparing Bono and Ryan is comparing apples and oranges. These are in no way the same kind of incident. ABC was so sure that the FCC will not levy fines that it promised to cover any incurred by their affiliates.

Of course, the affiliates that have chosen not to air Ryan insist that they really, really want to air such a fine tribute to our veterans, but they just can’t because the FCC might slap them with fines they don’t have to pay.

Are the ABC affiliates really that afraid of the FCC? Or is this just another sign of the backlash and fear coming out of the “value based” election? Afraid of the FCC? Or afraid of the neocon right?

I’m glad that Steven Spielberg has the clout to insist that his film be aired intact and uncensored. I wish that more directors could.

And… welcome to George W Bush’s new America: Don’t bother to think. We’ll take care of that for you.



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