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Universal Pitches Kid-Friendly Remote

Cable is being pitched a new parental control device--a remote control.

Universal Electronics is out at the National Cable & Telecommunications Assocation convention selling a remote control that will only surf to kid-friendly channels.

Called The Cricket, the remote is programmed with a limited number of preset channels--it has only 14 buttons, including large branded channel buttons (Disney, Nickelodeon, noggin, PBS, Animal Planet, Cartoon Network).

The cable industry has been under pressure from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to give parents more control over their kids TV viewing. He has been pushing an a la carte model in which parents would not have to take, or pay for, channels that they felt were inappropriate for their kids.

The cable industry has countered that its economic model is built on bundled services and that partents already have channel-blocking mechanisms at their disposal.