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NCTA Plans New Content-Control Effort

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association Wednesday will unveil what it called a new, proactive effort to give parents more control over their kids' TV viewing.

The powerful chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee is looking for some pro-activity from the industry on the issue of self-regulating its content.

Cable has been the target of attacks from Capitol Hill, from broadcasters, and elsewhere for its protected status.

While broadcasters are subject to FCC indecency regulation, the Supreme Court has ruled that cable speech is protected from similar indecency crackdowns so long as operators make channel-blocking technology available at the request of subscribers.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who earlier in the year suggested he might be ready to try and regulate cable content anyway, has since said said he is "not convinced" that parental control of cable content is a sufficient safeguard, but he has not made any decisions.

According to his staff, that was the Senator's response following his visit with the cable industry at the National Show in San Francisco earlier this month, where he got a "very good explanation" of parental channel blocking controls.

"At this point, he is not convinced yet that this is the total answer, but believes the cable industry is certainly working to try to find an answer.”

No word from Stevens' office on whether any of his staffers had been invited to the Wednesday announcement at the Press Club in Washington. NCTA was not talking about the intitiative or the guest list.