Battle Brews Over Burns' 'War'

PBS stations unsure if airing doc's profanity will net fines
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2007 6:47 PM CDT

(Newser) – Words that start with “f-” and “s-” or end with “-hole” could spark fighting over a documentary that’s titled, appropriately, “The War.” PBS has a version of Ken Burns’ new film with expletives removed, but some stations want to show the real thing—even during FCC-patrolled hours of 6 AM to 10 PM. Burns calls it “an old jalopy filled with drunken revelers… headed toward a bus full of evangelicals."

The FCC forgave profanity in “Saving Private Ryan” a few years ago but fined a station for running Scorcese’s blues doc, calling its language “gratuitous.” Some small-budget stations are afraid to test the FCC by running “The War” with all 4 expletives intact. Burns is surprised that no one's talking about the film’s violence, which includes beheadings and “dead bodies stacked up like cordwood."