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Stevens: Parental Control May Not Suffice

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) 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, 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,” his office said in a statement.

On March 1, Stevens, co-chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, warned cable that he wanted to level the playing field by regulating indecency on pay as well as broadcast. "I think we can put restrictions on cable. and I intend to tell them that,” Stevens told an applauding crowd of TV- and radio-station executives in Washington two weeks ago for the National Association of Broadcasters annual state leadership conference.

“If we can force them to carry broadcasters’ signals, then I think we can tell them that the same level of [indecency] standards that apply to broadcasters should apply to cable,” eh said.

But a week later, Stevens softened that stance and began talking more about tiering of cable services and self-regulation. He said one option would simply require operators to better explain to customers how they can take advantage of existing channel-blocking technology and, perhaps, mandate operators' participation in a program ratings system.