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Copps: What’s a Family Tier?

Federal Communications Commission Democrat Michael Copps is concerned that cable operators planning to offer a family tier have failed to disclose critical details that could determine the success of such a programming package.

“We’ve got to define what a family tier is. We’ve got to figure to our how much it’s going to cost,” Copps told the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday, adding that the success of a family tier would be judged by the American consumer. “We’re not there yet. We got a long way to go.”

President Bush has re-nominated Copps for another five-year term. Copps, 65, appeared before the committee with Deborah Taylor Tate, a 56-year-old Republican state regulator from Tennessee whom Bush nominated to fill the seat vacated in March by former FCC chairman Michael Powell.

Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens said his panel could vote on the two as early as Wednesday.

On Monday, major operators pledged to roll out a family tier by April 1, 2006, in effort to address concerns about unregulated indecent programming in expanded basic, cable’s most popular optional service.

“I share a lot of the concerns I hear and that I’ve read about,” Tate said. “What was incredible to me was that in just a short period of time that several members of the industry had actually come forward and are engaging in a voluntary, I guess, code of conduct.”