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It's Wait and See for NRB on Tiering

Frank Wright, president of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), tells B&C that the cable industry's pledge of family-friendly tiers was a good sign but he still has a number of reservations.

“The [National Cable & Telecommunications Association] proposal is a positive gesture," he said, "but it remains only a gesture until more details are forthcoming. For example, who will determine the composition of the family tier, how much will it cost, can families add other options like sports?"

NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow did not reveal any details about pricing and content of the planned tiers, beyond saying each individual operator would have to decide what went in them to avoid antitrust issues.

"If the family tier is not a product people actually want to buy," said Wright, "then this proposal amounts to nothing more than a diversionary tactic by the cable industry to avoid dealing with their growing indecency problem.”

NRB represents 1,400 religious broadcasters.

Some other religious groups were more upbeat on the tier's prospects. Jerry Fallwell's Moral Majority and the Faith and Family Coalition both came out in support of the family tiers. Those groups, unlike major indecency complainer Parents' Television Council, oppose a la carte cable, fearing it could marginalize religious channels.

Fallwell praised the family tiers as a response to "a deep and abiding concern among parents about a coarsening of the culture and growing indecent programming directed at children," while the coalition, which Fallwell is also a member of, called the initiative "a very positive step in the right direction.”