PTC And the Case Of the Missing Questions

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The broadcast and cable industries can expect to take at least a couple more shots from the Parents Television Council in the coming weeks, according to a copy of a PTC-commissioned poll obtained by B&C.

In a press conference two weeks ago, PTC attacked the media, calling the nine-month-old "TV Boss" V-chip/ratings education campaign a failure and touting three questions it had asked about use of the blocking technology.

But it failed to share with reporters the results of two other questions that suggested the respondents wanted a la carte cable and to pull the licenses from "indecent" broadcasters. PTC did share them with staffers at the FCC, however, which has proved an ally in PTC’s war on smut.

Why then did PTC choose not to disclose information to the press that plainly supports its stance on content control?

Dan Isett, PTC’s director of corporate and government affairs, says that was because the three questions it did release were aimed directly at the TV Boss campaign. The remaining ones will be publicized over the coming weeks.

According to one of the two missing questions, 81% of respondents said they should not be "forced" to pay for channels they don’t want just to get access to programming they do want.

That certainly would have added ammunition to PTC President Tim Winter’s assertion at the press conference two weeks ago that it was time to "give parents and families the ultimate in parental control and let them select and pay for only the cable networks they want coming into their homes."

It will almost certainly be used by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to buttress his case for à la carte. Isett says the reason the FCC got to look at all the questions was that Martin had been asked to participate in the press conference announcing the results. He did not.

An FCC official, who asked not to be named, said the commission had not requested the poll information but was "pleased to get it"—no doubt because Martin has been telling everyone from Capitol Hill to Madison Ave. that cable and other pay media should be offering their programming à la carte.

What was the other question PTC is holding in reserve? When asked "Do you agree or disagree that television stations that repeatedly ignore the broadcast decency law should lose their licenses to broadcast over the public airwaves?," 68% said yes.

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