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Cable Pledges Info War on Indecency

In the wake of pressure from the Federal Communications Commission and Congress, the cable industry will conduct a wide-ranging educational initiative to better inform its customers of their ability to block objectionable programming.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association outlined its plans in a letter to FCC chairman Michael Powell and the members of both the House and Senate Commerce Committees. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has been among the most vocal in urging cable to take such steps.

The move comes on the eve of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee’s markup of a bill to crack down on indecency, including possible amendments targeting cable and satellite.

The campaign, christened "Cable Puts You in Control," includes a Web site to be launched by April 1; PSAs, also due early April; bill stuffers and pamphlets; and a series of "roadshow" media workshops for parents to "address concerns about the exposure of children to inappropriate content on television" and help teach media literacy skills.

NCTA president Robert Sachs said in the letter: "The cable industry takes seriously your challenge and its responsibility to help protect children from indecent and unnecessarily violent TV programming. We believe these steps will help cable customers identify the wide array of programming options from which their families can choose and the many tools available to help them be responsible television viewers."

Much of the effort will be overseen by the industry’s existing Cable in the Classroom initiative. The PTA will also be involved.