Another Update: On the PBS NewsHour Friday: "Terence Smith speaks with Karen Everhart of Current newspaper about the persistent controversies plaguing PBS and Mitchell's decision to leave.
Visit pbs.org/newshour/media after 9p.m. Eastern time for more information on this segment."
I had planned to write Monday about the next two Frontline documentaries which both focus on the military in Iraq: A Company of Soliders which follows the 8th Cavalry's Dog Company airs on Tuesday, February 22nd. A Soldier's Heart which looks at the mental impact of the war airs a week later on March 1st (as well as previous excellent shows including Truth, War, and Consequences and Rumsfeld's War) . And I still will.
But PBS has decided to send a version of A Company of Soldiers censoring the language of the soldiers on the hard feed (an uncensored version will be available on a soft feed). Frontline issued a statement today (which is in full below) saying they believe "this is the moment for public television to stand firm and broadcast 'A Company of Soldiers' intact, as it was intended. We believe what is at issue is not the particulars of this case, but the principle of editorial independence. Because overreaching by the FCC is at its heart a First Amendment issue, all programs are at risk, whether art, science, history, culture, or public affairs." A Soldier's Heart has similar language, so I imagine PBS will do the same thing (unless there is enough of an uproar).
I wrote about the impact of the FCC crackdown in POV's broadcast of Wattstax marred by bleeps (which has a bunch of links) last September on TVBarn and Blogcritics last September. If the bill passed by Congress becomes law without any provision for smaller fines for public broadcasting, it will have an even more chilling effect.
I watched the beginning of A Company of Soldiers and the language is completely appropriate. It would be distracting to have bleeps while soldiers are being attacked. I hope most PBS stations will respect the soldiers and their audience and use the uncensored soft feed. At the very least, they should run the uncensored version late at night, so people can record it.