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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 09:22 GMT
US TV fails to save Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan starred Tom Hanks (left) and won five Oscars
Oscar-winning war film Saving Private Ryan was dropped by a number of US TV stations on Thursday because of fears they could be fined for indecency.

The stations, part of the ABC network, took the decision because of the film's graphic language and violence in light of a recent crackdown by watchdogs.

Reports of the number of ABC's 225 affiliated stations across the US that did not show it ranged from 18 to 65.

ABC bosses and politicians had tried to persuade local stations to take part.

Where the movie was screened as part of Veterans Day scheduling to commemorate US war dead, it went out in prime time with regular warnings about its content.

While it contains violence and profanity, these are not shown in a gratuitous manner
Senator John McCain
Senator John McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war who introduced the film on ABC, said it "comes nowhere near indecent".

"Saving Private Ryan is a powerful and important depiction of the sacrifices made for our country," he said.

"While it contains violence and profanity, these are not shown in a gratuitous manner."

It was also endorsed by conservative group the Parents Television Council, which has been among those campaigning against indecency.

Council president L Brent Bozell said "context is everything" and the film should be classed alongside Steven Spielberg's Holocaust drama Schindler's List.

The move comes amid a climate of uncertainty in US broadcasting over what breaches the rules of taste and decency in the eyes of media watchdog the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).


Rival CBS stations have been fined $500,000 (270,000) for showing Janet Jackson's exposed breast during the Super Bowl.

The FCC also ruled an expletive used by rock star Bono at an award ceremony in 2003 was indecent and profane.

Saving Private Ryan was shown on ABC in 2001 and 2002 with few problems.

ABC's contract with film studio DreamWorks meant the network could not edit the World War II movie, and requests by affiliates to show it later were turned down by ABC, station owners said.

The Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which owns eight ABC affiliates, did not show the film but said "we do not personally believe that this movie is indecent in any manner".

It added in a statement: "We believe the FCC guidelines and ABC's refusal to delay the broadcast require us to pre-empt the movie."

Why the stations have failed to save Private Ryan

Indecency fears hit US television
11 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Network fighting huge Janet fine
09 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Strippers earn record US TV fine
13 Oct 04 |  Entertainment
TV giants back Bono 'free speech'
20 Apr 04 |  Entertainment
US TV watchdog banishes swearing
19 Mar 04 |  Entertainment
Buffy show cleared of indecency
10 Aug 04 |  Entertainment


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