×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

FCC won’t block doc

Powell cites 1st Amendment in Sinclair case

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission topper Michael Powell doesn’t think the federal government should get into the messy business of telling broadcasters what types of political shows they can and cannot air.

Powell said Thursday the FCC will not step in to prevent Sinclair Broadcast Group from airing an anti-Kerry docu called “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal” in the final days before the election because the agency does not and should not have the power to do so.

“There is no FCC rule of prior restraint of a program being aired on television,” he told reporters following an FCC meeting. “I think that would be an absolute disservice to the First Amendment and I think it would be unconstitutional if we attempted to do so. So don’t look to us to block the airing of a program.”

The comments were Powell’s first public response to queries from 18 Democratic senators and two prominent Democratic House members who called on Powell to step in and stop Sinclair from running the docu on all 62 of its stations, many of which are in battleground swing states.

In their letters to Powell, Democrats charged that broadcasting the film, which focuses on Kerry’s role as a Vietnam War protester, would have the potential to violate the FCC’s equal time rules. But Powell dismissed that notion, arguing that the equal time laws only require a broadcaster to offer the other candidate an opportunity to respond to the negative depictions.

“And, at least by press reports, that opportunity has been provided,” Powell added.

Sinclair invited Kerry to participate on a panel for 15 minutes after the docu airs, but the Democratic nominee declined.

Later, during an interview on CNBC, Powell remarked that the FCC also has no power to investigate the sexual harassment charges that a former producer for “The O’Reilly Factor” has leveled against host Bill O’Reilly.

“The FCC is powerful, but I’m grateful that we’re not as powerful as that,” he joked. “We investigate a lot of things here, but Bill O’Reilly’s sexual behavior is not one of them.”

More TV

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up President Lisa Borders Resigns

    Lisa Borders has resigned as president of Time’s Up, she and the organization announced on Monday. Borders is resigning due to family issues, she said in a statement. Time’s Up COO Rebecca Goldman will now serve as interim CEO. “As Time’s Up continues to grow, I am proud of the work I have done to [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • Desus Nice The Kid Mero

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of Feb. 18, 2019: Academy Awards, 'Desus & Mero'

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, the Academy Awards air and Desus & Mero make their debut on Showtime. [...]

  • WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01

    BBC Takes Stake in New Company Set Up by ‘Luther,’ ‘Bodyguard’ Exec

    BBC Studios has taken a minority stake in Firebird Pictures, the new drama indie being set up by BBC execs Elizabeth Kilgarriff and Craig Holleworth. Kilgarriff’s credits include “Luther,” “Poldark,” “McMafia” and upcoming Richard Gere-starrer “MotherFatherSon.” She commissioned breakout drama hit “Bodyguard.” Holleworth will be the new company’s COO, having run business and operations for [...]

  • Punisher Jessica Jones

    Marvel's 'The Punisher,' 'Jessica Jones' Canceled at Netflix

    The last of Netflix’s Marvel shows are officially ending. “The Punisher” has been canceled after its second season, and the upcoming third season of “Jessica Jones” will be its last, Netflix confirmed on Monday. The announcement comes after Netflix gave the ax to its other Marvel series: “Daredevil,” “Iron First,” and “Luke Cage.” “Marvel’s ‘The Punisher’ will [...]

  • SND Boards Comedy Series 'Family Shake'

    SND Boards Comedy Series 'Family Shake' With 'Desperate Parents' Producer

    SND, the commercial arm of the French TV network M6, has acquired worldwide distribution rights to “Family Shake,” a comedy series written by Baya Kasmi and Michel Leclerc. SND is the latest vertically integrated French film group to start handling live-action series, following TF1 Studio, Studiocanal and Gaumont, among others. Produced by Gaëlle Cholet at [...]

  • 'Super Shiro' Anime Series Inspired by

    'Super Shiro' Anime Series Inspired by 'Crayon Shin-chan'

    The enduringly popular Japanese cartoon franchise “Crayon Shin-chan” has inspired a new animated TV series, “Super Shiro.” “Crayon Shin-chan” has been on air since 1992 and inspired 26 feature films. “Super Shiro” is a fast-paced chase series, for kids, based on original IP by Yoshito Usui and scripted by on Kimiko Ueno.  The series is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content