T Nation

FCC Attacks Cable/Satellite


Gotta love the FCC, especially with the "Christian Coalition" behind it.

FCC tells TV to keep sex under wraps
Chairman urges restricted access to racy cable and satellite shows
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Sexed-up, profanity-laced shows on cable and satellite TV should be for adult eyes only, and providers must do more to shield children or could find themselves facing indecency fines, the nation's top communications regulator says.

"Parents need better and more tools to help them navigate the entertainment waters, particularly on cable and satellite TV," Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin told Congress yesterday.

Martin suggested several options, including a "family-friendly" tier of channels that would offer shows suitable for kids, such as the programs shown on the Nickelodeon channel.

He also said cable and satellite providers could consider letting consumers pay for a bundle of channels that they could choose themselves -- an "a la carte" pricing system.

If providers don't find a way to police smut on television, Martin said, federal decency standards should be considered.

"You can always turn the television off and of course block the channels you don't want," he said, "but why should you have to?"

Martin spoke at an all-day forum on indecency before the Senate Commerce Committee. It included more than 20 entertainment industry, government and public interest leaders with differing views on whether broadcast networks, cable and satellite companies need more regulation.

Cable and satellite representatives defended their operations and said they've been working to help educate parents on the tools the companies offer to block unwanted programming. They also said "a la carte" pricing would drive up costs for equipment, customer service and marketing -- charges that would likely be passed to subscribers.

Others at the forum, such as the Christian Coalition, urged Congress to increase the fines against indecency on the airwaves from the current $32,500 maximum penalty per violation to $500,000.

Since the Janet Jackson breast exposure at the Super Bowl nearly two years ago, indecency foes have turned up the pressure on Congress to do more to cleanse the airwaves. But efforts to hike fines have so far failed.

Even so, Committee Co-Chair Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) told the forum that lawmakers want to see the industry help protect children from indecent and violent programming.

"If you don't come up with an answer, we will," he said.

Congress is considering several bills that would boost fines.

Chairman Ted Stevens (R- Alaska) said some critics have complained the bills don't go far enough and that decency standards should be expanded to cover cable and satellite.

Currently, obscenity and indecency standards apply only to over- the-air broadcasters. Congress would need to give the FCC the authority to police cable and satellite programming.

Kyle McSlarrow, head of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said the government doesn't need to intervene, and that there's more room for self- regulation.

Some lawmakers also complained about the TV ratings system and said it was too confusing for parents. But broadcasters said they weren't ready to give up on the V-chip and the ratings system it uses to help identify programs with sex, violence or crude language.

Jack Valenti, the former president of the Motion Picture Association of America, cautioned lawmakers to let the industry come up with a solution. Otherwise, he said, "you begin to torment and torture the First Amendment."



I got an idea, why don't you just be fucking parents and take control of the TV. It's your house dammit!

Many cable providers already have this. Idiots!

Yeah, and pay an arm and a leg more for cable. I'm sure the cable companies would love that.

You should have to because you are the parents! Stop being so lazy and do your fucking job!

Doesn't the Senate have more important things to do than trying to police TV that consumers are paying for? It's not like this is free over the airwaves! And the Christian Coalition is a bunch of psychotic wannabe control freaks! These people don't care about cleaning up TV! They just like the idea of controlling others lives! Morons!

Any young boy that was scarred because they saw Janet's titty needs to be monitored for potential gayness! They are comparing something that happened on FREE network TV to things are are on PAY-AS-YOU-GO Cable TV. Idiots!

And that is exactly where it should stay. If I am paying for TV, then I should have the right to have what I want. This smacks of more government special interest control.

These law makers and the so-called decency special interest groups really need to find something else to occupy their time. I got an idea, why don't they look into the indecency that is in the Federal Government first before trying to clean up cable TV. Glass houses and stones, glass houses and stones.


I like the a la carte idea.

I don't want the FCC meddling too much but things are getting out of hand for those of us with small children.

Of course we just usually turn the TV off. Why do I pay for cable again?


That's because you are a real parent, not one of these namby-pamby, touchy-feely, I want the world adjusted around me, I treat my child as my friend not as my child, idiots . This is exactly what we do in our household as well. We turn the TV off.

Because network TV really sucks ass.


My wife and I gave up cable over 2 years ago when our oldest turned 2. Between his videos and all the action we very rarely watched TV anyway.

I would be very interested in ala carte. Instead of paying 100 per month for Nick and ESPN maybe I could pick it up for 50 or so:)

But I go agree with Al that our legislature should have much better issues to be focusing on right now than what is on the tube. Let the parents parent and how about you big boys handle--oh I don't know--say health care reform.


The a la carte could be an option, I agree. But not the rule. This is just a terrible thing to do. As AL said, make the parents be fucking parents and pay attention to what they're kid is watching.



What is censorship about ala carte? What do you not like about the ala carte possibility.

And it's kind of easy to be all up on your hind legs here, but bottom line is while there are bad parents, many are forced into a position of unsupervision because of various socio/economic factors. Allowing parents to then decide which channels can even be viwed in the home would just be another tool in the box.


You mean like "saving" baseball from


When your cable bill skyrockets while you receive fewer channels than before, remember who is at fault. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? To the idea that a company is free to offer a discretionary product without it being micromanaged by the government? If you don't like a product, DON'T FUCKING BUY IT! If enough people agree with you and decide not to buy said product, the businesses offering them will change to suit the market. Crying to daddy (Congress) because you don't get what you want is for pussies.

As for those who want to enact decency standards on the cable and satellite channels for which I pay, I have one word: Totalitarian. Not content to simply control the behavior of people, they seek to control their very thoughts.

This irks me for all too many reasons.


I agree. I really wish people would adhere to the simple "Turn it off if you don't like it".

Its like what someone said a while back about people in the supermarket: everyone could point out 10 healthy foods, but they never get them.

Everyone knows what show they're getting. Don't let your kids watch Nip?Tuck. You know what you are getting into. They got the "MA" on the top....what more do these people want?


My thoughts exactly!


What Al Durr said.

I thought the whole idea behind cable was more sex and violence. That, and a million sports channels.


If they can't afford to be good parents because of "socio/economic factors", they shouldn't be spending their damn money on cable television.


Don't even get me started on that one! LOL


I agree wholheartedly! This is another issue that I have with the mindset of America today. For example, you have families that don't even have decent housing, but they are worrying about buying expensive cars and clothes. ARRGGGHH!!!!!


Damn right! You are preaching to the choir!


I liked this statement.

It implies that the whole world must conform to the viewpoint of this particular asshole, so that he doesn't have to do anything to control what shows up on his own damned television.

At the same time, there is nothing wrong at all in my mind with "a la carte", such that consumers can choose which channel groups they wish to purchase, instead of getting all of them.

It's a choice thing. Fuck, if children can be told they should "choose" not to have sex until they are married, I think adults can be told they should "choose" what to watch on television.


That was one of the statements that set me off on my tirade of "Do your fucking job as a parent!"


Cable/Satelite are businesses, if you don't like the product, don't buy it, and if you have children watch tv with discretion, the remote is like car keys, you wouldn't give it to your child if he/she coudn't drive, right?


THis is the only reason I think they will have a problem implementing stronger restrcitions- it is a business. Quite a large one in fact, and I doubt they want to see it go the way of radio (as it will when Stern is gone).

For once, I am hoping that a lobby is strong enough to influence those prics at the FCC. They are fighting not only for their profits, but for freedom of speech.