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Copps: Protect Kids from Sex Channels

Democratic Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps called on
the agency Wednesday to ensure that children do not see pornography on
television.

In a short statement accompanying the elimination of some FCC sex-channel
rules, Copps said the commission should 'commence a proceeding' to determine
what steps it can take to protect children from indecent and obscene
programming.

'It is incumbent upon us to take whatever steps we can, consistent with the
First Amendment, to protect our children from sexually explicit programming in
their homes,' he said.

The FCC eliminated rules created to enforce curbs on sex channels contained
in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the sex-channel law as a violation
of the First Amendment in a suit brought by Playboy Entertainment Group.

Under the law and FCC rules, cable operators were required to air adult
programming only between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. if they were unable to fully
scramble the adult channels' audio and video feeds.

Congress -- addressing a problem called 'signal bleed,' which occurs when
adult programming jumps over to other channels due to poor scrambling -- wanted
to ensure that cable homes that did not subscribe to sex channels could not view
the programming.

The Supreme Court held 5-4 that Congress should have relied on less
restrictive means in dealing with signal bleed than a ban on adult programming
on some cable systems for two-thirds of the broadcast day.

In its unanimous order, the commission noted that consumers may ask cable
operators to block programming from entering their homes and that they may rely
on the V-chip in TV sets and cable set-tops to interdict sexually explicit
programming that may bleed onto other channels.

Copps, citing the minority opinion in the Playboy case, called the
alternatives available to parents to block sexually explicit programming
'woefully inadequate.'