Ion Uses FCC Inquiry On Content-Control To Push For Qubo Carriage

Ion Media Networks is using the FCC's inquiry on content-control technologies to push for cable and satellite carriage of its digital kids channel.

That push came in reply comments in the FCC's congressionally mandated review of those technologies in implementing the Child Safe Viewing Act. The Commission must come up with a status report to Congress by the Aug. 29 on the V-chip/ratings system and other methods of parental control of the media, including online, cable and satellite.

While Ion said it backed tools to block objectionable content, it took the opportunity to argue for boosting the amount of programming parents want their kids to watch.

Ion argues that cable and satellite operators should be subject to the same public-interest obligations as broadcasters.

"Without such a mandate," said Ion in its filing, "discretion to decide what is best for the American public is left solely to MVPDs with little or no accountability to the general public."

Ion blames that lack of a MVPD mandate with what it calls a crisis in kids programming. Cable and satellite operators, it argues, "do not seek out or acquire new children's programming, independent producers of such programming are left without a market for their products and parents are left with limited programming options for their children."

Ion is concerned specfically about its failure to get much carriage cable or satellite carriage for

Qubo, the 24/7 digital multicast channel it programs with the help of Scholastic and others. Ion has offered it free operators and has found almost no takers, according to the programmer.

Ion wants the FCC to open an inquiry into what it calls the "bottleneck" in quality kids programming on cable and satellite.

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.