Cox Launches Family Tier

Cox Tuesday became the latest cable operator to offer a digital family-friendly programming tier.

The tier will average 40 channels, according to the company, with "slight" local variations.

The tier will cost about $32 per month and include a digital set-top box. Cox said it would roll out the tier to a total of 1.2 million customers in San Diego; Tulsa, Oklahoma City; and Fairfax, Va., by the end of first-quarter 2006.

The company also encouraged subscribers to take advantage of existing parental control devices.

Cox said in a statement that it had included channels beyond its limited basic package that "are effectively rated “G” and are suitable for family viewing with minimal chance of objectionable content or disturbing images; contain minimal live programming; are a fair representation of programming groups, brands & network types; and consistent with significant network affiliation agreement constraints."

The National Cable Television Association told the Senate Commerce Committee late last fall that cable operators would begin rolling out family friendly tiers. The move came in response to Hill concerns over indecent cable content, and under the threat of four indecency-related bills, including one mandating unbundling cable service.

Comcast and Time Warner have already announced family friendly tiers. All three have chosen to include CNN Headline News as their news channel. At last month's launch of its family tier, Time Warner spokesman Mark Harrad said the reason the news channel was CNN Headline News rather than CNN or Fox News Channel was that CNN Headline's primarily shorter, prepackaged clips made it less likely that any age member of the family would sit down and find something objectionable at any time of day, which was the company's test for the tier--hence the absence of Cartoon.
Not in the tier are any cable news channels.

In addition to Headline News and local TV stations, the new Cox tier will include:

Superstaion WGN*
Home shopping channel(s)*
TV Guide channel*
Local public, education, and government access channels*
Other local independent stations and channels
Disney Channel
Discovery Kids
National Geographic Channel
Home & Garden TV
DIY (Do It Yourself) Network
Fit TV
Weather Channel or Weatherscan Local*
Discovery Science
GSN (formerly Game Show Net)  
Religious network*
Spanish language network*

*Some channels will vary by local system; subject to existing local system channel lineups.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.