Cable Operators May Offer Family-Friendly Package

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By Arshad Mohammed
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 12, 2005

Under fire for coarse and violent TV shows, some cable operators intend to offer packages of family-friendly channels, the cable industry's main trade group plans to announce today, according to people familiar with the matter.

The companies, which are expected to include Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc., the two largest cable operators, are acting after criticism from lawmakers and from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin.

Kyle E. McSlarrow, the head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, plans to describe the move toward family-friendly "tiers" of channels during today's Senate Commerce Committee hearing on indecency on TV and radio.

Just what may be in these packages is unclear and will be decided by the companies on their own, said the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of upstaging McSlarrow.

Speaking before the committee two weeks ago, Martin faulted the industry for not doing enough to help parents protect children from inappropriate material. He also said that if companies failed to act, Congress could consider imposing decency standards such as those that apply to over-the-air network broadcasts.

Without endorsing any particular solution, Martin said providers could offer a family-friendly package; they could sell channels individually, rather than in packages; or the government's limits on broadcast indecency and violence could be extended to core offerings from cable and satellite companies.

Spokesmen for Comcast and Time Warner Cable were not immediately available to comment.

An NCTA spokesman declined to comment on McSlarrow's appearance beyond saying, "It's an opportunity to update the committee on initiatives to provide parents options for managing their home television viewing environment."


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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