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Dissing Private Ryan

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it had already received multiple complaints about ABC's airing of Saving Private Ryan, which included a bunch of "F-words" and incredibly graphic violence.

A couple of dozen ABC affiliates pre-empted the show, saying that the FCC's indecency crackdown had made it too risky to air.

Ironically, although they feared such complaints and the potential threat to their licenses, they also needed at least one complaint so that the FCC can now say whether they can air it in the future (ABC scheduled it as a Veterans' Day tribute, as well as a sweeps special). Most had aired it twice before, but that was before the commission began cracking down on profanity.

The FCC couldn't or wouldn't say whether any of the complaints had come from the stations who had preempted the show. Some stations had asked the FCC to pre-clear the show, but as Michael Powell pointed out when the FCC was asked to rule on Sinclair's John Kerry special beforehand, that would be illegal prior restraint.

Now that the complaints have been lodged, the FCC's enforcement bureau will review them to determine whether there was any violation of the FCC's new, tougher, enforcement standard."This just highlights the dilemma local broadcasters are facing given the FCC's recent crackdown on indecency, " said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton.