Monday, November 28, 2005

FCC Chairman Urges A-la-Carte Video Programming or New Decency Requirements

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin called on the cable industry and direct satellite broadcasters to offer better tools and packages to filter between adult-oriented content and family-friendly programming or face new rules. Specifically, Martin called upon multichannel video providers to offer a-la-carte programming choices so that viewers do not have to purchase objectionable content as part of a "basic" or "expanded basic" package.

Some highlight of his testimony:

  • "I have urged the industry to voluntarily offer one of several solutions. First, cable and satellite operators could offer an exclusively family-friendly programming package as an alternative to the "expanded basic" tier on cable or the initial tier on DBS. This alternative would enable parents to enjoy the increased options and high-quality programming available through cable and satellite without having to purchase programming unsuitable for children. Parents could get Nickelodeon and Discovery without having to buy other adult-oriented fare.

    "A choice of a family friendly package would provide valuable tools to parents wanting to watch television with their families, and would help them protect their children from violent and indecent programming. Other subscribers, meanwhile, could continue to have the same options they have today. Indeed, some cable and DBS operators are already providing tiers such as digital sports tiers and Spanish-language tiers.

    "Alternatively, the programming that cable and DBS operators offer in the expanded basic package could be subject to the same indecency regulations that currently apply only to broadcast. This standard would apply only to channels that consumers are required to purchase as part of the expanded basic package, not premium channels."

See also