Thoughts, opinions, and random ramblings on this Thursday morning:
--- Take time today to remember the brave men and women who have served our nation --- and continue to do so today in far off corners of the world. While we may not agree with the political decisions being made in Washington, we appreciate the sacrifices that our military personal make in the service of our nation. We also pray for their quick return home to family, friends, and communities. Thank you!
--- As part of it's Veterans Day lineup, ABC Television plans to broadcast the film "Saving Private Ryan". This would be the third broadcast airing of the Academy Award winning epic by ABC, and per the network's contract with director Steven Spielburg it must be aired unedited.
That is apparantly causing concern for several affiliates, which have chosen to broadcast alternative programming instead. The issue is that the dialogue of "Saving Private Ryan" includes several uses of the F-word, and the affiliates fearing possible fines and other sanctions by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC has cracked down on what it considered "profane and indecent" language in broadcasts since the Janet Jackson wardrobe debacle at this year's Super Bowl and U-2 lead singer Bono spouting the F-word during a live NBC broadcast of last year's Golden Globe Awards.
Among stations in Florida not airing "Saving Private Ryan" are Tampa/St. Petersburg's ABC affiliate, WFTS-TV 28, Orlando's WFTV-TV 9, and WMBB-TV 13 in Panama City. Here is a statement by WFTS owner E.W. Scripps Company stating why "Saving Private Ryan" will not air on any of it's ABC stations. And this link is to Cox Communication's WFTV statement. BTW: If you are in Tampa/St. Petersburg and have a good antenna, you can see the movie on Sarasota ABC affiliate WWSB-TV 40.
Here's part of the story that appeared in Variety (edited):
So while "Saving Private Ryan" got strong ratings in its initial airing, ABC affils repping more than 35% of the country have told the net they won't air tonight's encore broadcast of Steven Spielberg's D-Day epic.
The scheduled preemptions come even though most, if not all, of the stations now balking at running Steven Spielberg's D-Day epic have aired it in the past. Pic, which contains more than three dozen utterances of the word "fuck," must air its unedited form, as per ABC's license agreement with DreamWorks.
But with the FCC and Congress threatening blockbuster fines for stations that air indecent material before 10 p.m., a slew of station groups have told ABC they don't want to take a chance on viewers complaining to the FCC. The preemptions come even though in 2002, the FCC -- responding to a complaint about the pic from activist Donald Wildmon -- ruled "Saving Private Ryan" wasn't indecent.
ABC's affiliate relations department was said to be working overtime to get some stations back on board. Industry insiders suggested several major station groups have ordered their affils not to air "Ryan," but that some local stations are balking at the group decision. As a result, it's possible the number of preemptions will ultimately fall below the 35% level.
While affils from some stations say they're not sure they can risk airing "Ryan" in the current political environment, others, including Pappas-owned KHGI in Lincoln, Neb., argue preempting the pic is a public service.
"Pappas has decided that the interests of the viewers of KHGI, in the Lincoln-Hastings-Kearney, Neb., market, are best served by preempting this program," read a statement released by the company. "Pappas Telecasting and its management have been in the forefront of regulatory efforts to eliminate profanity, indecency and gratuitous violence from network programming, particularly during times when children may be watching. Moreover, as is evidenced by recent decisions of the Federal Communications Commission, stations that air network programming with indecent or profane content are subject to significant fines and the threat of license revocation."
But Ray Cole, prexyprexy of Citadel Communications, said he pulled "Ryan" from his three ABC stations in Iowa and Nebraska because of fear of fines.
"Under strict interpretation of the rules, we can't run that programming before 10 p.m.," Cole told the Associated Press. "We have attempted to get an advanced waiver from the FCC and, remarkably to me, they are not willing to do so."
While the stations didn't get any complaints about "Ryan" the last two times it aired, Cole cited Janet Jackson's Super Bowl peepshow and last week's election as reasons for keeping "Ryan" off the air.
Ironically, the Parents Television Council, a conservative group that regularly decries so-called "indecent" material on TV, said it's in favor of ABC airing "Ryan" as is.
"Context is everything," PTC toppertopper Brent Bozell said in a statement. "We agreed with the FCC on its ruling that the airing of 'Schindler's List' on television was not indecent and we feel that 'Saving Private Ryan' is in the same category. In both films, the content is not meant to shock, nor is it gratuitous."
ABC declined to comment on the affilaffil defections, instead issuing a statement noting the pic will carry numerous parental advisories. Sen. John McCain also taped a new introduction to the movie.
Pic was set to air in May, around Memorial Day. But after the Jackson incident, ABC execs decided to push the encore airing to November -- after the election.
Most of us have heard worse, and people should know that in a realistic portrayl of war there will be language which may not be suitable for younger viewers. Indeed, ABC has already noted that it would air the appropriate warnings before and during the broadcast. Moms and dads should be forewarned, and view with caution.
I've seen "Saving Private Ryan", and it is one of the best war movies of all time. I'll be watching. And thanks to Mustang Bobby in Miami and his blog "Bark Bark Woof Woof" for the heads up (and, BTW: HAPPY BELATED ANNIVERSARY!!!)
--- Yassar Arafat died late last night (Eastern Time). I'm sorry, but you won't see me crying tears over his death. Arafat was, quite bluntly, a terrorist and corrupt leader who plundered the Palestinian Authority treasury of money meant to help his people. Not only that, but in the latter days of Bill Clinton's presidency, Arafat walked away from an agreement that would have given the Palestinian state legitimacy and allowed the Palestinian people the opportunity to live at peace with it's neighbours in Israel. Maybe the new leadership that will come into the spotlight will sit down in a spirit of cooperation and comprimise and achieve what Arafat could/would not do.
It certainly will not be easy. There are people in Israel that do not want any type of Palestinian state, as well as Palestinians who want hundereds of thousands of Israeli settlers removed from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, plus Jerausalem to be their capital. On both sides, nothing else would be satisfactory. Both sides need to work out an agreement which may not give them everything they want...but as I usually say, half a loaf is a heckuva lot better than the status quo.
--- The Polk County School Board has a pressing question before it today: Does 1/8 of an inch constitute the difference between a "dangerous object" and a "weapon"?
The question comes from the case of a student at Lake Gibson High School, who had been fishing earlier in the afternoon. He had taken a knife to cut line and help remove hooks out of the mouths of fishes he caught. Unfortunately, the young man apparantly forgot that he had the knife on him when attending a football game. During the game he attempted to break up an altercation involving a friend, and when the knife was noticed by a school resource officer the student was the one who ended up at the Juvenile Detention Centre.
Administrators twice upheld the expulsion. Although a hearing officer later recommended that the penalty be reduced to suspension, it was ignored by Superintendent Jim Thornhill and his security/discipline chief. The case has now been appealed to the full seven member school board, which will decide the issue today.
While "no tolerance" policies are generally commendable, each case should be decided on it's own merits. This student has had no serious discipline problems (tardiness) or violent behaviour, and it is apparant that the kid simply forgot he had the knife on him. Witnesses say the student did not pull the knife of threaten anyone; indeed, he was simply trying to break up an altercation and prevent a friend from getting in trouble or worse. Certainly in this case a suspension would have been appropriate. But now the student has been out of class since the incident in September. Hopefully the School Board will do the right thing in this case.