It turns out that ABC didn't let anybody move Saving Private Ryan -- at least not very far.
A number of the stations that wound up preempting the special Veterans Day broadcast for fear of running afoul of FCC profanity regs, including Hearst-Argyle's ABC affiliates and KCAU-TV Sioux City, Iowa, had planned to move the broadcast, which includes graphic violence and four-letter words, into the post-10 p.m. indecency safe harbor.
"We said no," confirmed an ABC spokeswoman, who at press time was trying to find out the reasoning behind the denial, though she thought it was probably because the network is a stickler for running shows "in pattern."
"To our disappointment and regret, ABC has denied our request," said Hearst-Argyle in a statement. "The right solution for our station is to air Saving Private Ryan in its entirety at 10 p.m.Since ABC has denied that request, we are left with the choice of either broadcasting the programming at 8 p.m. and incurring serious regulatory exposure by the FCC or not broadcasting the movie at all.
"Given the current state of the law and the lack of clarity from the FCC on what legal program standards apply prior to 10 p.m., we have elected not to broadcast the movie.This is a collaborative decision between the station, corporate managers and our legal advisors."
ABC did let stations move the broadcast ahead by 21 minutes, say from 8 p.m. NYT to 7:19, so that the movie could end exactly at 11 p.m. and stations' newscasts would not be put at a competitive disadvantage.
It being a sweeps period, when stations determine their ad rates, ABC thought it fair not to push the 11 p.m. news, among a stations most profitable programs, back to almost 11:30.