FCC crackdowns alter Veterans Day programming, underwriting promo

[JURIST] In the wake of FCC crackdowns on media outlets, several broadcasters have changed Veterans' Day programming and a North Carolina radio station has banned the phrase "reproductive rights". ABC stations owned by Cox Television, Citadel Communications, Belo Corp., Hearst-Argyle, E.W. Scripps, and others are refusing to air Saving Private Ryan tonight, fearing six-figure fines and future difficulties in renewing their licenses, even though they aired the movie without incident for Veterans' Day in 2001 and 2002. The general manager of Pittsburgh ABC affiliate WTAE explains, "[i]t's a different social climate, the regulatory climate is different." Greg Stone, general manager of Atlanta's WSB-TV, notes that swear words used in the movie may make the station vulnerable to an FCC sanction in light of the agency's controversial March ruling [PDF] against NBC for broadcasting the musician Bono exclaiming, "[expletive] brilliant!" in response to his win at the 2003 Golden Globe Awards. That ruling, Stone noted, "reversed years of prior policy that the context of language matters." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more. Meanwhile, Chapel Hill's NPR station WUNC-FM has required Ipas, an international women's rights organization, to describe its work in an underwriting announcement as promoting "reproductive health" instead of "reproductive rights," explaining that "we can't use advocacy language... Unfortunately, the FCC doesn't specify what that is. There's no list of forbidden terms. The only way to find out if you've stepped over the line is if someone challenges it and the FCC issues a fine." AP has more.

 

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