We've covered this territory before, but judging by the continuing inquiries the topic needs to be covered again.

The movie "It's a Wonderful Life" won't be on television this weekend. As a matter of fact, it won't be on TV again until December 1995, when NBC airs it again.Yes, this is quite a contrast to previous years, when the 1946 movie seemingly aired every few hours on this, that and the other channel. That was because, through oversight or stupidity, Republic (the studio that produced "Life") did not renew its copyrights in 1974 and the film passed into the public domain.

Which meant that anybody and everybody could both broadcast the movie and sell videotape copies of it. And that "It's a Wonderful Life" showed up ad nauseam on TV - often with badly edited, poor quality copies of the film.

But Republic took steps a couple of years ago to reassert its control. It now holds the copyrights to the music in the film and the short story on which the movie is based. Plus, it owns the original negative and has a U.S. Supreme Court decision backing it up.

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Republic licensed exclusive broadcast rights to "It's a Wonderful Life" to NBC, which broadcast the film (to good ratings) on Dec. 10. However, local NBC affiliate KUTV-Ch. 2 pre-empted network programming that night to air a University of Utah basketball game.

(In Ch. 2's defense, the game was scheduled long before NBC scheduled "Life.")

At any rate, local viewers missed their chance. And KUTV, which had planned to air "It's a Wonderful Life" on Christmas Day, has been forced to alter those plans because of NBC's exclusive rights.

If you want to see the movie this Christmas, you'll have to watch it on videotape. And, fortunately, there are a few billion copies of it floating out there.

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