03.20.2005 02:18 PM
Stevens wants cable programming tied to tiers of content

Ted Stevens, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, wants cable television operators to devise ways to package channels to give customers more control over indecent content.

Stevens made the proposal while backtracking on recent comments that suggested cable television should be subject to the same indecency rules on program content as terrestrial broadcasters. He said those comments were misconstrued.

Instead Stevens wants the industry to mirror what the movie industry has done. He said cable should offer tiers of channels rated according to their content. Cable companies should offer at least one bundle of channels that would satisfy the broadcast decency standards, he said.

Sen. John McCain, who headed the Senate Commerce Committee in the last Congress, favored letting cable TV customers pay only for the channels they select.

But, cable companies insist that consumers would be harmed if operators were barred from offering broad programming packages, because some niche channels might not attract enough subscribers to survive.

Stevens suggested that cable companies compromise by offering content-rated packages, and also allowing customers to block individual channels at no extra charge.

For more information, read "Stevens wants to extend indecency rules to pay providers" from the March 5 issue of Beyond the Headlines.

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