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Cable Ratings Could Be on the Way

If Comcast Corp. gets its way, cable will have to start adopting a ratings system similar to that of broadcasters.

In a letter to House Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton, the FCC, and other legislators, Comcast promised to set as a condition of carriage on its systems that a cable net provide ratings for all its programming.

In addition to TV program ratings, that may include the MPAA rating for unedited movies. Comcast will set up an 800 number to teach customers how to block programs and add a "parental controls" icon to its video-on-demand menu.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) praised Comcast, while telling the rest of the cable industry that its educational initiative does not go nearly far enough.

In response to calls from the FCC and Congress, the NCTA yesterday announced an effort to better educate subscribers on their ability to block offensive channels. That effort, which includes a Web site, bill stuffers, and an informational "road show" pales in comparison to Comcast’s proposal, according to Markey.