×
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

  • Tyler Perry

    Tyler Perry Sets White House Drama 'The Oval' at BET

    Tyler Perry has scored a straight-to-series order at BET for a drama set at the White House, Variety has confirmed. The series, titled “The Oval,” will introduce viewers to the new first family moving into the White House. Ed Quinn will star as President Hunter Franklin, while Kron Moore will play First Lady Victoria Franklin. The [...]

  • Kira Kelly Cinematographer Queen Sugar

    'Queen Sugar' DP on How Ava DuVernay Encourages Creativity on the OWN Series

    Cinematographer Kira Kelly, who earned an Emmy nomination for her work on Ava DuVernay’s “13th,” feels that her time spent on nonfiction projects over the past two decades has improved her ability to cope with the demands of shooting narrative fare.  The scaled-down resources — often just Kelly and maybe a focus puller or a [...]

  • MY SO CALLED LIFE

    'My So-Called Life' 25 Years Later: Claire Danes and Wilson Cruz Look Back

    When “My So-Called Life” debuted in 1994, there weren’t many portraits of gay teenagers on television. But Wilson Cruz changed that with his depiction of Rickie, a proudly rebellious high school sophomore who was a key member of Angela Chase’s social circle. As a true confidant to Claire Danes’ Angela, Rickie was both a TV [...]

  • Producer John Wells photogrpahed at his

    John Wells Productions Sets Rich New Deal With Warner Bros. Television

    John Wells Productions has renewed its ties to Warner Bros. Television with a rich five-year overall deal that will extend the prolific producer’s tenure at the studio to nearly 40 years. The deal, which is said to reach into nine figures, runs through 2024 and calls for Wells’ company to develop a wide range of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content