Federal judges in Atlanta and San Francisco refused yesterday to bar public television stations from showing "Death of a Princess," the movie that enraged Saudi Arabia's government when it was broadcast in England in April.
More than 100 Public Broadcasting Service stations planned to show the two-hour film last night.
The South Carolina Educational Television Network announced several days ago it would not carry "Death of a Princess," and the Alabama ETV Network said it would holdup broadcast of the film to allow commissioners to see it first. Broadcast was delayed in Los Angeles at least until the end of the week.
In New Orleans, a three-judge federal appeals court panel overturned a lower court decision that had required a Houston public TV station to broadcast the controversial film about the execution of an Arabian princess and her commoner lover.
However, justices of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the station, KUHT-TV, to keep tapes of the film, apparently to make sure it is available if the station is ordered to broadcast the movie after a full trial of the case.
Later yesterday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell rejected an application for appeal of the lower court ruling, thus allowing the Houston station to keep the program off the air last night.