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Kerry 'Clarifies' Indecency Position

A spokesman for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said Monday that Kerry was speaking in broad philosophical terms in a C-SPAN interview in which the Democratic presidential hopeful seemed to suggest that he did not support a crackdown on cable indecency.

Spokesman Andy Davis was explaining how that apparent stand squared with Kerry's vote back in March supporting an ammendment to a Senate indecency bill that would have cracked down on cable indecency by applying broadcast indecency standards to cable and satellite, which many observers say has huge constitutional problems. 

Davis suggestd that Kerry was not seeking either a crackdown or a free pass for cable and satellite, but a middle ground.

In the interview, C-Span's Susan Swain had asked: "Philosophically once again, is this emphasis on indecency standards, perhaps even the suggestion that they should be applied to cable television, something that you support philosophically?

Kerry: "I think there is a distinction between public broadcast and the notions we’ve had historically about family time, family hour -- and what you buy privately and personally.  I am not in favor of government interference and censorship and restriction of what an individual privately can decide to do in their home, in their own space, so to speak."

It was that distinction between private buying and public broadcast that led to that interpretation by some, including B&C.

Kerry, said, Davis, recognizes the need for a balance between individual rights and standards of public decency, something he also spoke about in the interview, and believed the amendment, which failed to pass, was an attempt at a reasonable compromise.

The amendment, introduced by Senator John Breaux (D-La.), would have applied indecency rules to cable and satellite programming on expanded basic tiers until a critical mass (85% of households with children) either could use the V-chip or other blocking technology to block programming or say they don't want to use it.

Davis said that the fact that the bill sunsets, that it applies only to expanded basic tiers, not premium, and includes promotion of the V-Chip (whose main backer, incidentally, is fellow Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Edward Markey) all contributed to Kerry's support.

Kerry, said Davis, recognizes that a lot of people don't distinguish between cable and other channels. That echoes a justification for cable and satellite regulation that was heard often, both from legislators and members of the broadcast community, at indecency hearings earlier this year.