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ACLU Rebukes Censorship of War Documentary


Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union today condemned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the effect of its vague and inconsistent treatment of “indecency.” Because of the uncertainty, some broadcasters are wary of airing a documentary on World War II since the fourteen hour movie contains a total of four expletives. The film, “The War” by filmmaker Ken Burns, is scheduled to air on the Public Broadcasting Channel on September 23. The FCC has the ability to enforce indecency laws by fining broadcasters for instances of “indecency” between 6 a.m. and 10pm.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"To impede the First Amendment rights of those who fought and died for those very rights is reprehensible. Our public broadcasters should not be afraid to air fourteen hours of an educational and fact-based documentary because of a handful of profanities. Images of the brutality of war are far more disturbing than any four letter word.

“This clearly settles any question about the chilling effect of the FCC’s vague and contradictory indecency regime. Broadcasters should not have to guess whether or not a work is ”indecent,“ and face substantial fines if they guess wrong. When it comes to what we allow our children to see on television, parents must be the first line of defense – not the government.”


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