FCC finally kills scrambling rules

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Three years after federal judges barred regulators from enforcing pay-TV
scrambling rules for sexually explicit programming, the FCC has taken the
official step of repealing the restrictions.

In 1996 Congress ordered the FCC to require cable
operators to fully block sexually explicit programming during hours children
were likely to be watching television in order to eliminate "signal bleed,"
which allowed people who did not subscribe to adult channels to see portions of
the programming.

Cable companies specifically also were required to block the channels at all times at a customer's request.

Playboy Enterprises took the FCC to court alleging free speech violations. A federal district court agreed with Playboy in 1998.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision last year arguing that requiring blocking technology upon customer request was sufficient to protect children and the least restrictive option for protecting the cable industry First Amendment rights. - Bill McConnell

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