CBS stations can expect to receive some e-mail complaints about their airing of the riveting documentary 9/11 even before they air it, and almost certainly indecency complaints afterwards.
One of the two major indecency complaint filers, the Mississippi-based American Family Association, has sent out an action alert under the heading "CBS To Air Profanity-Laden Program," asking members to complain to the FCC and CBS affiliates and to "share this information with your Sunday School class."
CBS will air content warnings before and during the documentary's Sept. 10 airing. The show, which has aired twice before unedited, features firemen and other emergency workers swearing in the heat of one of the most cataclysmic events of our time.
CBS has said it does not expect to have any problems with the FCC, nor do affiliates contacted by B&C last week, pointing to the FCC's decision that the FCC found that the swearing in film "Saving Private Ryan" was not indecent in context.
But the FCC has cracked down on profanity, including ruling that some swearing in another documentary--on bluesmen on PBS--was indecent.
Some CBS stations are using the following language to explain their approach to the show: "
“We appreciate your concerns regarding the language in the “9/11” special. "We feel strongly that censoring the content of a broadcast such as this one would compromise the subject matter in a way that would do a disservice to the vast majority of our audience. Therefore, CBS has chosen to air the filmed sequences from September 11, 2001 in “9/11” in the same manner as the initial two broadcasts of the program on March 10, 2002 and September 11, 2002."In order to ensure that viewers are aware of the language, we will include warnings in the broadcast, and Robert De Niro, who will again serve as host in a newly taped introduction to the program, will also alert viewers to the graphic language. This will allow ample notice for viewers to seek other programming if they feel this broadcast is not appropriate for their household.”