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PTC Pans Comcast Tier

Not surprisingly, The Parent's Television Council isn't any happier with Comcast's family tier proposal than it was with Time Warner's.

The Parents Television Council is not appeased by cable-industry efforts to create family-friendly programming tiers in an effort to appease groups like, well, the Parents Television Council, though PTC is on the record as saying tiers aren't enough if the industry wants to avoid a push for applying indecency regs to the wired medium.

In a statement released Tuesday, PTC President Brent Bozell called the Comcast tier "more foolishness from the cable industry." He called Time Warner's "a bad joke."

Bozell, who is pushing for unbundling cable networks so that subs can pick and choose among channels, says the Comcast tier is "designed not to interest most families" because it does not include movie or sports channels or news channels like CNN and Fox News Channel.

The 16-network Comcast Family Tier contains a few more high-profile networks than Time Warner’s family-tier lineup, announced last week. Comcast’s tier, for example, will include Nickelodeon and Nick Too, which are absent from Time Warner’s tier.

Comcast’s family tier, comprising networks the company deems G-rated, will include Disney Channel, Toon Disney, PBS KIDS Sprout, Discovery Kids, Science Channel, Nickelodeon/Nick Too, Nickelodeon GAS (Games and Sports), TBN (Trinity Broadcasting), HGTV, Food Network, DIY, CNN Headline News, The Weather Channel, National Geographic Channel, C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2.

“Not only is family programming missing," Bozell said, "but subscribers to Comcast’s ‘family tier’ would also be forced to take 20-25 channels on the ‘basic’ cable tier that they may believe are not family-friendly.

"In some markets, consumers will get TBS (with Sex & the City) and USA (with Law & Order reruns). These reasons completely defeat the purpose of a ‘family tier’ solution from the cable operators."

By law, cable operators must offer subscribers a basic tier of local broadcast channels and public access cable channels, but they have discretion as to what to include beyond those.

The cable industry is under pressure from indecency critics in Congress and elsewhere to give parent's more choice, including a bill introduced in Congress that would mandate a la carte (per channel) cable pricing.

Bozell has said that he would push for indecency regs on cable unless Congress boosted FCC indecency fines and mandated per-channel pricing.--Anne Becker contributed to this report.