AFN says ‘Baghdad ER’ is too graphic to broadcast
May 26, 2006
American Forces Network has decided not to pursue the rights to broadcast “Baghdad ER,” the graphic HBO documentary that portrays the Iraq war from inside the 86th Combat Support Hospital.
Larry Sichter, a spokesman with the AFN broadcast center in Riverside, Calif., said the documentary falls outside the network’s standards, which are the same as broadcast networks ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX.
“The program was rated TV-MA (for mature audiences), and it far exceeds those standards,” Sichter said.
“We had a few inquiries from our affiliates. Our policy was, ‘Let’s wait and see it.’ Yes, it was [for mature audiences].”
“Baghdad ER” includes grisly footage of wounded and dying troops, as well as profanity, nudity and other adult content.
The program focuses on the doctors, nurses, medical personnel and patients at the hospital inside Baghdad’s heavily protected International Zone, formerly known as the Green Zone.
Some troops in Europe, however, will soon be able to see the documentary.
HBO is sending complimentary DVDs to Army hospitals, according to Jeri Chappelle, spokeswoman for the European Regional Medical Command in Heidelberg, Germany.
The DVDs of “Baghdad ER” were supposed to arrive around May 16-17, Chappelle said, in advance of HBO’s premiere airing on May 21.
But they were apparently sent to the wrong address.
The same thing happened to DVDs being sent to Army hospitals in South Korea, she said.
Marie Shaw, a spokeswoman at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, said she has been battered by requests for the program.
“It’s what we do every day, it’s what we fight every day, it’s how we fight to save lives every day,” Shaw said.
“Of course our people are going to want to see that.”
Among those who might see the documentary is Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Crown, a respiratory therapist with the Würzburg, Germany-based 67th Combat Support Hospital.
He served in Mosul, Iraq, from January 2004 to January 2005.
“I hope it shows that our soldiers have a good place to go to if they’re injured, that they know there’s good quality medical care out there,” Crown said.
“I’m proud of what we did, and think [the medical facility] we left behind was a lot better than what we started with.”
Crown predicted that the documentary would bring back good memories for some people, and not-so-good ones for others.
Shaw said that once the documentary arrives at Landstuhl, the medical staff and chaplains would be the first to see it.
If enough additional people wanted to see the program, the hospital would likely then make arrangements for showings.