FCC looks into "60 Minutes" blackout
WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - The Federal Communications Commission is investigating a mysterious signal loss by an Alabama CBS affiliate during a "60 Minutes" segment about the state's imprisoned former governor.
The news item concerned allegations that Don Siegelman, a Democrat who is serving a seven-year term for corruption, was railroaded by Republicans in the Justice Department.
FCC chairman Kevin Martin told reporters Tuesday that the agency received "20-odd" complaints about the 12-minute blackout of Huntsville station WHNT-TV's broadcast on February 24. The blackout occurred at the beginning of the broadcast of the 13-minute segment.
"I have instructed the staff to handle this like we do all the other complaints," said Martin, a Republican appointee. "I've asked the staff to send a letter (to the station) with the complaints attached, asking them to respond to it."
Despite claims that a GOP-engineered conspiracy caused the blackout, WHNT said it was caused by a malfunctioning receiver. The station later aired the entire Siegelman item twice.
The "60 Minutes" story suggested Republican politics was behind Siegelman's prosecution and imprisonment, a claim prosecutors deny. It's unclear what action the FCC can take as it has little say on content outside of indecency issues.
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