Vice Squad
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Ryan Redux

Last week we mentioned that some ABC affiliates were shying away from airing "Saving Private Ryan," due to the possibility of facing FCC fines for excessive violence and profanity. Yesterday, Chicago Tribune writer (and blogger) Eric Zorn's column provided more information: 66 affiliates decided against broadcasting SPR. Further, their reticence was not an obvious case of overreaction, because the FCC's post-Bono clarification made it possible that almost any use of sufficiently foul language, irrespective of context, might generate a fine. Of course, FCC enforcement is complaint driven, and who would complain about SPR? Zorn had intended to file an ironic complaint, but, well...:
The American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss., had beaten me to the complaint desk. Leaders of the Christian-right group sent out an "action alert" last Friday urging supporters to e-mail specific (and non-ironic!) objections about "Saving Private Ryan" to the FCC in a form letter that included the transcript of two raw portions of dialogue.

A spokeswoman for the commission's enforcement bureau said Monday that the bureau has so far received comments on "Saving Private Ryan" numbering "in the thousands."

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