Bill Would Give FCC Cable Content Control - Broadcasting & Cable

Bill Would Give FCC Cable Content Control

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As promised, Republican Tom Osborne (R-Neb.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) Thursday introduced bill that would give cable a "column A,B,C," choice of content regulation.

The bill is billed as the Family Choice act, the preferred term for a la carte cable with groups like Parents Television Council, which backs the legislation and touted it to the press on Wednesday.

Asserting that "indecent programming on channels carried on extended basic cable service is pervasive, " and that the V-chip does not "effectively protect children from indecent programming--it cites a TV Fax article on second and third sets without chips, by the way--the bill's authors would essentially give the FCC the power to regulate cable content in one of several ways.

Multichannel video providers--cable, satellite, telcos--would be required to abide by FCC indecency standards that that currently don't apply to them, or they would have to scramble any channel, without charge, a subscriber doesn't want, except channels that have to be on, like public access and TV station's local signals; or they have to offer cable a la carte--pay per channel, essentially; or provide a family tier, which must include all basic channels except ones with TV-14 or TV MA content between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., unless they are news or live sporting events.

That tier would still exclude ESPN from the family tier unless it chose to put shows like the profanity-peppered Bobby Knight bio on after 10 p.m.

Excluding ESPN has been cited by some family tier fans as the industry's attempt to make the tier unattractive.

The bill is billed as the Family Choice act, the preferred term for a la carte cable with groups like Parents Television Council, which backs the legislation and touted it to the press on Wednesday.

That said, such a bill has little chance of passage. An a la carte amendment to the Senate Commerce Subcommittee video franchise reform bill was soundly defeated (20 to 2, with the two being the co-sponsors).

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