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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 November, 2004, 17:31 GMT
War film axed by 66 US stations
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan starred Tom Hanks (left) and won five Oscars
Nearly one-third of US TV stations affiliated to the ABC network dropped Oscar-winning film Saving Private Ryan for fear of facing indecency fines.

Sixty-six of ABC's 225 affiliated stations decided not to air the film, which opens with a gritty depiction of D-Day and includes profanity.

The decision follows a recent crackdown by watchdogs.

The Federal Communications Commission received complaints but said it had not yet decided whether to investigate.

It could impose an indecency fine of up to $32,500 (17,500) on each station that aired the film, which was seen by an estimated 7.7 million viewers on Thursday.

Many of the stations that did not show the film suggested that viewers upset by the decision should contact the FCC.

Indecency fine

It was the third time it had been shown on ABC.

ABC spokeswoman Susan Sewell said the "overwhelming majority" of viewers were comfortable with their decision to broadcast the film, adding that if the FCC wanted them to respond to complaints, they would.

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.

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.

'No editing'

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 seen on ABC in 2001 by 17.9 million people and in 2002 by 8.7 million 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

US TV fails to save Private Ryan
12 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
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


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