Cable Operators

Surprise Cable Debut for Fahrenheit 9/11

10/22/2004 5:22 AM Eastern

Michael Moore’s controversial documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, turned up on a public-access cable show Wednesday night.

Wilton Vought -- who has produced a two-hour public-access show on Time Warner Cable’s system in Binghamton, N.Y., for more than one year -- apparently programmed the Fahrenheit 9/11 tape into the company's automated system, and the film was aired, AP reported.

Cable-industry pay-per-view and video-on-demand purveyor In Demand was scheduled to air the documentary under the heading The Michael Moore Pre-Election Special Nov. 1 for $9.95.

That package, according to sources, would have included a political discussion with the controversial filmmaker. However, In Demand told AP Oct. 16 that it wouldn’t air the film for “legitimate business and legal concerns.”

In published reports, Moore said he had signed a contract with In Demand in September and he believes the company backed away from presenting the film due to pressure from top Republicans.

Having the Bush-bashing film run the night before the election could have presumably influenced voters at the poll the following day.

Commenting Friday, an In Demand spokeswoman said there were no plans to run the special.

TVN Entertainment Corp., meanwhile, said it would entertain the prospect of airing the film if its distributor, Sony Pictures, or a third party, which could resurrect the original election special, offered the rights.

At press time, though, TVN said it had not been presented with that opportunity.

Sources said the target date for the PPV and VOD distribution for Fahrenheit 9/11 -- currently available on DVD -- is Dec. 1.

As far as the Binghamton airing, Time Warner spokesman David Whalen told the local Press & Sun-Bulletin the operator received some viewer phone calls expressing concerns about the film’s content, violence and profanity, adding that the system is not responsible for content on public-access channels, and it is prohibited from exerting editorial control over them, according to AP.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is a documentary that is highly critical of how President George W. Bush handled both the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the decision to go to war in Iraq.

September