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White House Clarifies Indecency Stand

President George W. Bush appeared to tell newspaper editors April 14 that he supports extending indecency standards to cable and satellite TV. That would have been big news, except that he didn't really mean it.

"Yeah, I'm for that. I think there ought to be a standard," he said in response to a question following a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Though he at first didn't quite

seem to understand the question, when it was repeated and clarified that the issue was cable and satellite, the President said: "I don't mind standards being set out for people to judge the content of a show to help parents make right decisions. "The government ought to help parents, not hinder them."

According to White House spokesman Trent Duffy, however, what the President was actually endorsing was the the House bill that would up the fines on radio and TV indecency, but did not address cable and satellite TV.

The President also last week argued strongly for self-regulation: “The final edit is a parent turning off the TV. The ultimate responsibility in a consumer-driven economy is for people to say, ‘I’m not going to watch it,’ and turn the knob off. That’s how best to make decisions and how best to send influences.”

The president continued with what seemed a mixed message: “Look, we’re a free society. The marketplace makes decisions. If you don’t like something, don’t watch it. And, presumably, advertising dollars will wither and the show will go off the air, but I have no problems with standards being set to help parents make good decisions."