Powell Backs ‘Private Ryan’ Airing

Dec 14, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell has privately recommended that his fellow commissioners reject complaints alleging that “Saving Private Ryan” ran afoul of the agency’s indecency prohibitions, agency sources said Tuesday. Concerned that the frequent use of the F-word and other profanities in the Academy Award-winning film might violate the agency’s new prohibitions against off-color programming, 65 affiliates refused to carry the ABC TV Network’s Veteran’s Day broadcast of the movie Nov. 11.

The affiliates’ concern stemmed from the FCC’s decision earlier this year that Bono’s use of the F-word during a Golden Globes broadcast-and similar expressions-violated agency prohibitions, regardless of the context in which the words were used. Assuming that Mr. Powell is able to persuade a majority of his colleagues to accept his new argument, the FCC’s “Saving Private Ryan” decision-expected to be announced within the next several weeks-will make clear that context matters.