- Motolotov cocktail thrown a Brooklyn mini-mart
- 3 Americans dead in shooting at Kabul hospital by Afghan guard
- Running on empty: EPA slashes biofuel goals because of ethanol shortage
- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
Bill seeks to give viewers an option
A group of lawmakers yesterday introduced legislation that would allow consumers to block unwanted channels and be reimbursed their cost, arguing that cable television subscribers should not be required to pay for channels they find offensive.
“In today’s culture, parents are increasingly worried that their children are exposed to obscene, indecent and violent programming,” said Rep. Daniel Lipinski, Illinois Democrat. “While there is no doubt that parents are the first line of defense in protecting their kids, clearly they need more help.”
Under the Family Choice Act of 2007 cable and satellite TV providers would have to comply with one of the following: Apply broadcast indecency standards to their daytime programming; expand current family-tier offerings to include news and sports channels; or offer an “a la carte” option that lets subscribers block objectionable channels, giving them credit on their monthly bills for the costs of providing those channels.
Mr. Lipinski and Republican co-sponsors Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska and Rep. Robert B. Aderholt of Alabama were joined yesterday by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin, a longtime proponent of a la carte cable, and members of the Parents Television Council, Consumers Union and Concerned Women for America.
“There is a right to free speech, but there is no constitutional right to be paid for speech,” he said. In addition, Mr. Martin added, a la carte would benefit all consumers through lower cable prices.
Supporters of the measure say government intervention is necessary to create a free market.
“Unlike other areas of the marketplace, Americans are not as free to choose among TV options,” Mr. Fortenberry said. “They are locked into purchasing packages that many times provide them with more than they want.”
The bill probably would increase cable subscribers, he added.
Not surprisingly, the cable industry doesn’t see it that way.
“Overwhelming evidence shows that a mandated a la carte regime would result in higher prices and less diversity in programming, overturning a video marketplace that provides U.S. consumers with the widest variety of programming found anywhere in the world,” said Brian Dietz, spokesman for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.
Several small cable networks also came out against the bill, arguing that it would give providers an incentive to eliminate less-profitable channels from their lineup.
“For those of us working to bring family-friendly content to American television, the Lipinski-Fortenberry legislation is a recipe for disaster,” said Rod Tap, spokesman for the Inspiration Networks, a 24-hour religious network. “The growth and acceptance of our networks has been possible to a large extent because we are able to place such programming on the widely distributed channel packages offered by cable systems.”
This isn’t the first time a la carte legislation has been introduced; Mr. Lipinski introduced a similar bill last year but it failed to gain any traction.
“I’m not telling you that this is moving tomorrow,” he said of the bill. However, its chances are better this year in the wake of a recent FCC report on TV violence and the court decision on the indecency policy.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Obama avoids 'red line' for China, prepared to impose tougher sanctions on Russia
- CURL: Obama's foreign policy even worse than his domestic policy
- Ukraine claims torture by pro-Russian forces on the heels of Biden's stern warning to Moscow
- Sold out: Ukraine's leadership swapped best military weapons for cash
- Jimmy Carter: Dont hurt Russian people with sanctions
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014