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Bill to Bring A La Carte, Indecency Regs to Cable 274

Posted by Zonk
from the what-if-we-feel-like-10-am-porno dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A bill introduced this week would force cable operators to offer à la carte cable and so-called family-tiers of service. Those opting for à la carte programming would get refunds on their cable bill, but the legislation would also extend broadcast indecency standards to cable and satellite TV for the first time: 'In accordance with the indecency and profanity policies and standards applied by the [FCC] to broadcasters, as such policies and standards are modified from time to time, not transmit any material that is indecent or profane on any channel in the expanded basic tier of such distributor except between 10pm and 6am.' As Ars points out, 'With the parental controls built into every television set, set-top box, and DVR being sold these days, the need for such legislation seems questionable at best. Unlike broadcast television, which is available to anyone with a TV and an antenna, people subscribe to and pay for cable/satellite.'"
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Bill to Bring A La Carte, Indecency Regs to Cable

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  • by eharvill (991859) on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:34PM (#19526759)
    Or simply lose a lot of cool ("indy") channels that don't get enough sponsorship to survive on their own?
    • by MobileDude (530145) on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:41PM (#19526851) Homepage
      errr, perhaps they're not that ^cool^ if they can survive on their own?
      • by eharvill (991859) on Friday June 15, 2007 @07:17PM (#19527269)
        Yes, b/c as *everyone* knows, popular and highly rates shows *must* be good.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by guaigean (867316)
          But if they can't sustain themselves, why would you continue paying to produce it? Unless you're doing non-profit, why would you support a company policy that said "Hey, we're just gonna spend a lot of money and go further in debt, just in order to make 0.5% of the population happy." Seriously, not all indy is good either. If something is valued by people, then it should bring in more support than it requires to produce. If it isn't, unless you had money to blow, why would you keep it going?
          • by badasscat (563442) <`basscadet75' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Friday June 15, 2007 @07:44PM (#19527493)
            But if they can't sustain themselves, why would you continue paying to produce it?

            I understand your point, but it's not really a valid one. If it was, not only would you only ever hear Britney Spears on the radio, it's all you *could* ever hear *anywhere*.

            The problem is a lot of stuff starts out "indie" that becomes mainstream later. Almost by definition, most experiments fail. The ones that succeed, though, are the ones that drive the mainstream forward. So a lot of money must be lost in order for money to be gained over the long term. How do you think bands like Coldplay and U2 were initially financed? They didn't pay for themselves at first; they were financed by people like Madonna and Kylie Minogue. Same goes for TV talent. You've gotta run before you can walk.

            With a-la carte pricing, I guarantee channels like IFC and Sundance Channel will die. You may not watch those channels, so you personally may not care. But is the point of a-la carte pricing to bring us less choice? Is that the goal we should be working towards?
            • by badasscat (563442)
              You've gotta run before you can walk.

              Er, uh, yeah... and vice versa.

              Hopefully you know what I meant.
            • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Friday June 15, 2007 @08:23PM (#19527757) Homepage Journal
              But is the point of a-la carte pricing to bring us less choice?

              What about the choice not to pay for channels we don't watch?
              • by destiny71 (731278) <destiny71@nospaM.gmail.com> on Friday June 15, 2007 @10:08PM (#19528339) Journal
                You don't necessarily pay for those channels. They are bundled by the studio/broadcaster that owns them into one purchase. The more channels a studio has, the more advertisements they can sell.

                Think of Nickelodeon or Disney. They have their main channels. They pay money to either get, or produce shows for those main channels. Does Nicktoons, and ToonDisney pay that same money again to rerun them? No, but the studio does get another channel to sell advertisement slots on. The more impressions, the more money they bring in.

                So, we go a-la-carte, no one buys Nicktoons, because they want all the programming, not just the cartoons, on Nickelodeon. No one watches Nicktoons, advertisers won't buy slots on Nicktoons, soon, it goes away. The extra revenue generated by another channel that really didn't have much expense is lost. Nickelodeon now costs more to recoup those loses in order to cover their production costs.

                TV Viewers need to understand, it's not the cable company that's forcing them to get every channel offered under one package. Whoever owns a particular channel requires the cable provider to bundle them all together, and asks for a specific amount per viewer for all of the channels together.
                If they are forced to allow cable providers to offer them individually, each channel you want will end up costing more overall than if you just got then entire bundle to begin with.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by fyngyrz (762201) *

                What about the choice not to pay for channels we don't watch?

                I agree. Although I'm not nearly as concerned with this as I am with the "indecency" regulation; censorship isn't a good idea under any circumstances, it is distressing to see it creep further into the realm of acceptability. It is also distressing to see how little commentary has been made here with regard to it, at least thus far. I don't want a small group of people regulating what everyone else can see. If people don't like something, the

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward
              I don't know about that. I know ESPN (fuck them for making MNF almost unwatchable, I'd subscribe to a channel showing the taliban setting thier children on fire.) and Disney would suffer, Sundance and IFC have programming I actually watch. I pay extra for the encore package, and showtime, and nfl network as it is. nickelodeon, disney, a bunch of related crap, spanish only channels, religious shit up the ass, the mtvs, country anything, chick channels, bet, all shit i pay for and don't use. I'm taking it
            • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@tp n o - c o .org> on Friday June 15, 2007 @09:18PM (#19528071) Homepage

              With a-la carte pricing, I guarantee channels like IFC and Sundance Channel will die. You may not watch those channels, so you personally may not care. But is the point of a-la carte pricing to bring us less choice? Is that the goal we should be working towards?


              I don't know about you, but around these parts I pay for 80+ channels and watch 2 of them. Maybe. About 1/3 are foriegn language stations. Another 1/5 are sports related, then you have the MTV channels. There are about 5 selling/auction channels. The rest are made up of gardening/home channels and the basics. I don't really want to pay for any of those, and have a moral problem supporting some of them ( MTV ).

              I'd be OK with less choices; If it ended up with me not having anything to watch on TV, I'd be ok with that. It's just not that important.
              • I don't know about you, but around these parts I pay for 80+ channels and watch 2 of them. Maybe. About 1/3 are foriegn language stations. Another 1/5 are sports related,
                How do you watch 2/3rds and 2/5ths of a channel?
                Is this some sort of new picture-in-picture function?
            • by oogoliegoogolie (635356) on Saturday June 16, 2007 @07:48AM (#19531303)
              With a-la carte pricing, I guarantee channels like IFC and Sundance Channel will die.

              Dear lord, if channels have such poor viewership that they cannot survive without being tied to some bundle then let them die. Just because the channel is not mainstream does not mean it's some artistic endeavor worth saving.

              You may not watch those channels, so you personally may not care.

              That's right, I don't watch them and I don't care.

              But is the point of a-la carte pricing to bring us less choice? Is that the goal we should be working towards?

              What goal? Since when did all cable subscribers start working towards a goal? My goal is to pay for what I watch, and only what I watch. In the past, when I had cable before I got sick of all the retarded bundling, I was paying for 125 channels + 4 digital packages just to watch the six stations I really want. I don't really know what you are talking about when you mean "choice", but forcing me to get all those channels is not much of a choice. In fact I made the choice to cancel my cable over a year ago.

          • by dangitman (862676)
            Wasn't the grandparent poster talking abou "cool" stuff, not "successful" stuff? Usually the coolest things aren't popular or successful.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sTalking_Goat (670565)
      That bothers me too. I support a la carte cable. I had my cable cancelled a few months back becasue I was paying $80 to get 60+ channels (&HD) and really only watched about 8 channels.

      But with a la carte cable might feel they have to go the way of network TV and try to appeal to the Lowest Common Denominator instead of their niche audience. Which would destroy the entire reason cable is worth having in the first place...

      Plus the whole decency thing is just stupid.
      • by daeg (828071) on Friday June 15, 2007 @08:23PM (#19527755)
        Actually, I think the opposite may be true. Currently, it is difficult to target a niche audience because you, as a television channel, have to convince broadcasters to add your content to their lineup. It is a risky venture for cable companies. They don't know if their viewers really want the content.

        With a la carte, cable companies have little to risk about adding a channel since they can pay for what their customers use. N subscribers makes them pay $N for the channel.

        Channels will have to continually produce content for their viewers, too, or customers will sign up for the months when new content is on and cancel afterward, much like many people do with HBO/Shotime/etc. Of course, this can also bring in a new market sector of channels: those that are only on air for a few months out of the year, reducing operating costs and having a very strong profit for the few months they are on air showing good content.

        I don't, however, like this getting tied in with even more indecency laws. Laws and indecency have nothing to do with one another, even for broadcasters. If we allowed anything on air and current statiosn suddenly went apeshit and started swearing about the mother fucking fire on main street that caused the anchor to be late for mother fucking work while blaming it on those shithead firemen a new market sector would instantly appear: the moderated, tame, channels. Especially if we had a la carte.
    • It's not about money (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816) on Friday June 15, 2007 @07:41PM (#19527465) Homepage Journal
      The indy channels disappeared a long time ago. What you think of as "indy" channels are just the media monopolies doing odd stuff to try to capture niche audiences.
      The real indy channels went away when the MMs used their clout to force the cable companies to buy big bundles of channels. ("If you want to carry the local Fox station, you have to carry our new FX channel too. Yes, we know there's nothing on it yet. We'll worry about that later.") That left no room for all the weird little cable channels you used to see: the channels run by obscure religious sects, the public-domain movie channels (I saw the entire work of Ed Wood on one of those!), the Flat Earth society channel, the origami fetish channel...

      Of course, these bundles aren't cheap, which is why cable rates are so ridiculous.

      I think the folks that want alacart (I insist on spelling it that way, given the context) aren't interested in saving money or "protecting" their kids. They are just are pissed off that some of their money is going to pay for "un-Christian" content. In other words, this is just another lame "culture wars" battle that has no relation to the real world.

      • It's kind of silly. Outside of the premium channels, I don't think any money of consequence goes to the networks that operate the channels. Non-premium channels get most of their money from the ads.

        It's kind of funny about F/X too, it's not offered to C-band customers *because* Murdoch doesn't like the fact that analog C-band customers were able to buy just the channels that they want. The VideoCipher system allows subscribers to buy authorizations to packages, selected channels or packages plus selected
      • The indy channels disappeared a long time ago. What you think of as "indy" channels are just the media monopolies doing odd stuff to try to capture niche audiences.

        Funny, I didn't know IFC and the Sundance channel was part of the media monopoly.

        Falcon
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Crispin Cowan (20238)

          Funny, I didn't know IFC and the Sundance channel was part of the media monopoly.

          IFC [wikipedia.org] is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc. [wikipedia.org] which is a conglomerate that also owns AMC among other things.

          Sundance Channel [wikipedia.org] is owned jointly by Showtime, Universal Studios, and Robert Redford.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      "Or simply lose a lot of cool ("indy") channels that don't get enough sponsorship to survive on their own?"

      You mean like ESPN? Sorry, Disney, there just aren't that many rabid sports fans out there. And be sure to tell Viacom that they may have some problems keeping "M"TV afloat as well while you're heading out the door.

      I look at my basic cable lineup here in brighthouse country, and I just don't see anything that counts as "independent" other than the local 24-hour news channel. All the "small" channels
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Will we really save money? Or simply lose a lot of cool ("indy") channels that don't get enough sponsorship to survive on their own?

      If anything, ala carte will make indy cable channels possible (for the first time)... If a niche audience finds a channel good, they will be willing to pay a higher monthly fee to support it, where advertisers won't, and demand is low enough that cable operators wouldn't otherwise care about that niche enough to raise everyone's monthly bill by a few dollars.

      If niche channels

  • I still don't understand how/why they bundle fundementally different concepts into one bill.
    You can't get a stop sign at the end of your street unless you also vote for new garbage bins for the courthouse...what??
    • Like all politics, it is a form of gamesmanship.

      It forces those voting on a bill to make a decision about how bad they want one thing versus how bad they don't want the other.

      And it works both ways. Someone who initially would be dead-set against a bill is more inclined to do so if they get something that they do want in return for a yes vote.
      • More like a "you scratch my balls, I'll scratch yours" proposal, I would estimate. Both of these items are "pet projects" to someone.

        Congress is just a bunch of ball-scratchers, I tell ya!
    • Multiple reasons:

      #1. To get an "earmark" (aka "pork") passed because it attached to a bill that will be sure to be passed.

      #2. To force an opponent to vote AGAINST it because of their stance on a particular issue.

      #3. To get an opponent to vote FOR it because it includes on of their pet projects.
    • by kinglink (195330)
      For the same reason you can't get Sci-fi in my area unless you buy the sports package. I'll let you figure that one out yourself because I'm tired of trying.
      • by shaitand (626655)
        That's better than my area. If you want digital cable you have to take everything except the premium movie channels and the prices reflect it.
    • I still don't understand how/why they bundle fundementally different concepts into one bill.
      You can't get a stop sign at the end of your street unless you also vote for new garbage bins for the courthouse...what??

      One item is piggybacked onto another item because that's the only way it would be approved, and congress knows this.

      Falcon
  • Bwa?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MagicDude (727944) on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:39PM (#19526823)
    Now I'm even more confused. If you can get any channel you want a la carte, then why do you need to impose indecency regs on channels. I could almost see the logic when you had to get Spike and TNT in order to get Nickelodeon for the kids, but now if you can cherry pick the safe channels you specifically want (and as such, pick the not so safe at your discretion), you should do away with the regs and let the market sort out what people are willing to pay for.
    • Now I'm even more confused. If you can get any channel you want a la carte, then why do you need to impose indecency regs on channels.

      How else can you get people to voluntarily give up their 1st Amendment right, without promising to ease up a bit on the cable monopoly. And it works too, just the other day this guy politely asked me to voluntarily give up my wallet, and he promised he wouldn't shoot me, thus saving my life.
    • Re:Bwa?? (Score:5, Informative)

      by h4ck7h3p14n37 (926070) on Friday June 15, 2007 @07:21PM (#19527309) Homepage

      The sections talking about a la carte service are there to distract people from the real meat of the legislation, allowing the FCC to censor cable channels. Currently the FCC's able to censor over the air broadcasters quite well, restricting the information that they are allowed to push to their viewers. They do not have this ability with cable channels and I suspect that they desperately want it.

      Just think about it, over the air broadcasters are unable to show or talk about certain things (eg. horrors of war, human sexuality). As a result, it becomes much easier to control what people believe about certain things. Cable channels do not have this sort of restriction, so they're able to get this information out to their subscribers/viewers/listeners.

      If the FCC is allowed to censor cable and satellite (and Internet?) content along with traditional television and radio broadcasts, then they will become the information gatekeepers for the majority of Americans.

      • The sections talking about a la carte service are there to distract people from the real meat of the legislation,

        just as most "educational funding" and "protect the children" bills are just vehicles to get all of the add-ons passed. No bill passed would every be over 20 pages, except that their several hundred pages obscure most of the self serving gluttony and power grabbing of our government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."
      • Just think about it, over the air broadcasters are unable to show or talk about certain things...

        During the day, using explicit language.

        Nothing stops anyone from saying "You get AIDS from having sex!" or "Suzi Muslim was raped, beated, and burned alive today" at 3:00 PM in the afternoon, right when the kids get home.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      If you can get any channel you want a la carte, then why do you need to impose indecency regs on channels.

      Cable Conglomerates: "Set lobbyists to KILL"

      I imagine it wont be full a la carte (pick per channel) if it passes at all. It will be more like the digital "tiers" people already buy from some cable operators, except the groups of channels will be much smaller. And they'll just lump FX and Spike and such into one group, and MTV/VH1/GAC into another, ect. Just watch; if you want SoapNet, they'll force you

    • If you can get any channel you want a la carte, then why do you need to impose indecency regs on channels.

      Because they are a bunch of prudes.

      Falcon
  • Bill? (Score:3, Funny)

    by dave_mcmillen (250780) * on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:40PM (#19526837)
    Did anyone else read this and think, "Bill who?" No, I, uh, didn't think so . . .
    • by iabervon (1971)
      I thought it was talking about "A la carte indecency". Is that good enough? Unfortunately, I'd rather not see the a la carte indecency that Bill would probably bring.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:41PM (#19526849) Homepage Journal
    "extend broadcast indecency standards to cable and satellite TV for the first time: "

    the price they want is too high.
    • Weasel a'la carte (Score:2, Interesting)

      by slarrg (931336)
      It's not really a'la carte. They make you subscribe to the whole tier then refund the cable company's cost for each channel you drop from the tier. Every cable company will immediately be paying a fee to allow channels from each media company then pay only a penny per channel per subscriber. That way they can charge $20/tier then refund $.50 when when you opt out of every channel in the tier. This will be rife with abuse!
  • good and bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:49PM (#19526953) Journal

    "A bill introduced this week would force cable operators to offer à la carte cable and so-called family-tiers of service.
    à la carte cable, good now those garbage channels will finally die. restrictions on profanity etc. no, half the good scifi/action etc. shows have this in them. I like the idea of being able to cut out garbage channels and get a nice refund back for it but I dont like the idea of anyone telling me what I can and can not watch at the times they specify. Let me choose what I want to watch and keep your slimy tentacles off my remote.
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.vadiv@neverb o x . com> on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:51PM (#19526987) Homepage

    ...when we complained about the FCC's censorship, we were told: Oh, you can get cable if you want uncensored stuff.

    And they they started labeling everything and building controls into TVs to filter by rating. That was okay, because they told us, with everything labeled, people could complain less about 'inappropriate' things, because, after all, everything's rated.

    Look, we've given those fascist 'think of the children' asshats every damn thing they wanted, and, magically, they always want more. It is trivial to filter content from children at this point, via broadcast or cable. We should be reducing such general restrictions, not adding to them, because we've added specific abilities to filter to end users. There's no logical reason we should be extending restrictions them to cable.

    The one conclusion is that they wish to keep such content from adults.

    You know what? Media companies need to start labeling everything TV-MA. Everything. All channels, all shows, are now listed as bad as possible. You can either live and operate as an adult when interacting with the TV, or you can not ever watch anything ever again. Your choice.

    We tired, God knows we tried, but you fascist assholes either mindbogglingly stupid you can't avoid the carefully labelled content we've made, or deliberately don't want to. We're just going to have to draw the line in the sand, and label everything as 'hardcore porn' so you will shut the hell up. If people want cable, or, hell, wish to purchase a TV, they get handed a form that they have to flip past ten pages of porn to sign, and certify that they consent to have the filthiest things possible beamed directly into their and their children's brain.

    Of course, TV would remain the same, with different shows aimed at different audiences, but we'd have a lot less assholes whining about it, because there would be huge clear warnings that 'The following show contains every bad thing on earth. Do not watch it under any circumstances.'

    ...hey, South Park actually has that warning. Hmmm.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:52PM (#19526999) Homepage
    I am now basically convinced that only people from an engineering field should be allowed to draft laws. Why? Things like this. All it will end up doing is driving up the costs of cable service, undermining the buying power of families.

    But politicians are, in general, too stupid to understand that. So are the American people, in general, because they keep electing leaders who are leading us toward national economic suicide. More regulations, more taxes. Gee, you wonder why jobs are leaving America? Could it be the cost of compliance with every asinine regulation that some moron drafts?

    Sheesh. The people who are too lazy to regulate their own kids' use of TV will love this. They'll get their "family tier," only it'll probably cost them about $20-$30 more per month than the current system costs.

    Then they'll institute price controls because these same whiners will demand $45-$50 or less. Then, the cable companies will make less money per customer, weakening their position.

    Need I go on?
    • by Elemenope (905108) on Friday June 15, 2007 @07:09PM (#19527183)

      I have never been impressed by my Engineering friends' patience for the disturbing capacity of the human organism to frustrate expected error tolerances; they tend to expect things to work in regular and predictable ways (with easily twiddlable control values). Individual humans are bad enough in this respect, but in aggregate, human beings are frustratingly difficult to predict in their behaviors and constructing systems for channeling and mediating those behaviors have unexpected and often catastrophic failures.

      When you stop and think about it, law and legislation is very much like engineering; just with none of the convenient physical laws and thresholds to depend upon when designing the machines for operation. The engineering mindset, however, tends to value efficiency above all other qualities, and efficiency is not the primary goal of legislation; there are other things of value to be preserved in human-government interactions that would undoubtedly be sacrificed on the altar of efficiency.

      I do agree that this particular legislation sucks lots, though. Doesn't take an enginner to figure that out.

    • by dangitman (862676)

      I am now basically convinced that only people from an engineering field should be allowed to draft laws.

      Yeah, that'll work out really well.

      But politicians are, in general, too stupid to understand that.

      I think it takes an even more special breed of stupidity to think that only engineers should formulate laws. Because engineering and human interaction have soooo much in common.

    • I am now basically convinced that only people from an engineering field should be allowed to draft laws
      Engineers deal with physics, legislators deal with linguistics. Each has rules, but don't function in the same way.
  • Unlike broadcast television, which is available to anyone with a TV and an antenna, people subscribe to and pay for cable/satellite.

    The author has never lived in a concrete apartment building with nothing but cable available. When *I* lived in such places (and a few others that had bad broadcast reception for other reasons), I had the option of not subscribing, which meant absolutely no TV, or maybe a couple of snowy channels.

    I'm not commenting on the article in general. I just thought that particular stat
    • by shaitand (626655)
      'I had the option of not subscribing, which meant absolutely no TV'

      You make it sound as if TV is a fundamental human need. There is no particular reason to censor TV just so YOU can subscribe. If you are that concerned TV is rated now and your TV has the option to filter content by rating. I personally don't see the justification for ANY content restrictions on cable.

  • by overshoot (39700) on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:55PM (#19527025)
    and yes, the sets have "parental controls." However:
    • The parents don't use those controls,
    • Therefore the Government has to step in For the Sake of the Children!

    There are rumors that one reason the parental controls aren't being used is because the parents who want them are also dependent on their children to set them up.

    • The controls are worthless, because there is no independent standard by which a show is judged. What does TV14 mean? Well, Disney defines it one way and Viacom another. Heck, the same network isn't always consistent. I'm pretty sure I think this "decency" provision is a bad idea, but the cable channels have in part brought this on themselves. The people who care what their kids watch have trouble knowing if it meets their definition of appropriate. I suspect that letting people choose what channels they wan
  • V-chip (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Col. Klink (retired) (11632) on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:56PM (#19527037)
    With the V-chip in every TV sold, I think it's time to end FCC restrictions on over-the-air television, not the other way around.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dgatwood (11270)

      Indeed, that's the reason we agreed to allow them to mandate those chips in the first place. The far right mandated that we (the consumer) foot the bill for a small minority of parents who are not only horrified that their poor children might be permanently scarred by words that are no worse than the things they'd hear on the playground, but also are unwilling to monitor their own kids and what they watch on TV. (This is, of course, assuming that these parents ever really even existed, but for now, I'll g

  • by shaitand (626655) on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:57PM (#19527051) Journal
    This violates free speech plain and simple. They managed to slip this crap through on radio by claiming that broadcast radio was pushed out to consumers. Supposedly this meant that broadcasts were equivalent to yelling in the street. That was a fairly lame argument since you had to make an intentional effort to actually hear those broadcasts but whatever. Cable TV doesn't even meet that shady criteria. You actually have to pay to have a wire run into your home and pay a subscription to receive it. Cable TV is like speaking privately in your home. In your home YOU and not the public and not the FCC decide what content you want to purchase.

    Cable companies and content producers should ignore this. If the FCC tried to claim to that they are a higher authority than the constitution they would quickly be put in their place by the courts. This provides an excellent window of opportunity to get rid of all the censorship the FCC has forced upon television.

  • "Here's that delicious dish that you've been asking us for so long. Oh, just don't mind the huge turd wrapped around it."

    Nice. Thanks politicians.
  • Rationale? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:59PM (#19527075)
    What is the rationale for the Free Speech infringement here?

    With broadcast regs, it is reasoned that the airwaves are a limited public resource. Thus, the public supposedly has a right to regulate content broadcast over it.

    But cable is neither a limited, nor a public resource. And I don't gather that satellite is either. So how does the Congress get around the First Amendment and regulate their content?

    Is this unconstitutional or what?
    • by ls -la (937805)

      Is this unconstitutional or what?
      Probably, but it's been a long time since the government cared about whether their laws are constitutional.
    • by Bios_Hakr (68586)
      I think most Cable was installed by private companies. However, their cables were laid in city-owned conduits or strung from city-owned poles. I'm sure there was a leasing agreement. But they still use limited, public resources to carry their wires.

      Sats use radio for the uplink/downlink. I'm sure they had to license that from someone. Or do companies really spend billions to orbit a bird just hoping that no one else will decide to use that freq?

      Not that I'm saying they *should* be regulated. But when
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ls -la (937805)
        At most, that argument would allow for state governments to regulate content, the federal government still has no authority to do this.
        • by xenocide2 (231786)
          As a citizen of Kansas, I would welcome moderate federal regulation of content over the wacknuts who would be inevitably selected to regulate such affairs.
        • At most, that argument would allow for state governments to regulate content, the federal government still has no authority to do this.
          More often than not, cable operators in the United States relay signals originating from other states. Therefore, cable TV is interstate commerce. Besides, after Wickard v. Filburn [wikipedia.org], all commerce is interstate commerce.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)

      But cable is neither a limited, nor a public resource.
      Tell that to the city, which won't give your startup a permit to dig up the streets to install a competing cable network.
  • Congress can try all they like, but there's basically no difference from a first amendment perspective between censoring cable, and censoring any other subscription based press medium.

    In other words, if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of censoring cable, say goodbye to the first amendment. Normally I'd say this was impossible, but with the extreme right leaning of the court these days, anything is possible.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday June 15, 2007 @06:59PM (#19527089) Homepage Journal
    Who gets to decide what is indecent? Me? I doubt it.
  • A la carte good, censorship bad. They don't have much leg to stand on since cable isn't broadcast on public spectrum and satellite already has special permission to broadcast "indecent" content so long as it is scrambled or encrypted. There's no way the satellite lobby will let the congress-criters take this away.
  • by Dracos (107777) on Friday June 15, 2007 @07:16PM (#19527259)

    Cable rates have increased at 6 times the rate of inflation this decade, it's insane.

    I want cable, but I don't want to scroll through 200 channels of crap I'll never watch (MTV, VH1, Lifetime, Oxygen, the fucking Golf channel... these are my opinions, keep your flames).

    I do want to watch the Hitlery, er--I mean, History Channel (when it's not about WWII), History International, the Discovery networks, Comedy Central, and a few select others. Give me my 20 or so channels that I actually want at $1 each, and I'll be happy.

    I'm still subscribing, and there are still commercials, so the only people who lose from censoring cable are the majority of people who aren't offended by OMGBOOBIEZ!!!111one on the National Geographic channel. If you don't like it, turn back to the 700 Club.

    The premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Skinemax, etc) are the ones they likely want to censor, and these are the ones you have to effectively subscribe to twice.

    The FCC is not my kid's parent, I am. Don't impugn my ability to perform my parental duties, you pseudo-family-values fascists. I suspect that they want to do this to increase DVD sales.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomstdenis (446163)
      Buy a guitar or piano and learn to play music. There are other things in life than watching TV.

      Heck, you want a challenge, find a way for me to get a date on Friday that doesn't involve a "rough trick named stan" and I'd salute you.

      Tom
  • by frogstar_robot (926792) <frogstar_robot@yahoo.com> on Friday June 15, 2007 @07:20PM (#19527293)
    A major reason why I pay for premium channels is so I can watch things like Penn & Teller Bullshit! and Orgazmo. If pay cable has to be just like the three major networks of old then I'm dropping my cable like a hot rock. You hear that cable operators?; I'm not the only one who pays to see things the more public networks can't show. Lobby this one down pronto.
  • More pompous grandstanding for the electorate. Instead of doing real work once again congress campaigns from The Hill. It will be a cold day in hell before Disney lets you subscribe to ESPN without paying for Disney Channel, Toon Disney, ABC family, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPN Spanish. If the cable companys can't stand up to Disney there is no way congress or the American people can. Not that congress wants to fight them, they are owned by the Media corps anyways.
  • Actually, there shouldn't.

    If consumers want to buy just one cable channel, then they need to all go to the cable office together and cancel their services at the same time.

    If enough consumers want it, it'll happen.

    But every time you allow your government to regulate things, you lose a little more control.

    Small government == good government.
    • by cdrguru (88047)
      You misunderstand how things work. If 1,000 people went to a cable TV provider office and demanded access to only EWTN, just EWTN and nothing but EWTN ... they wouldn't be able to have it. There are contracts that specificy things like "every customer will get a basic cable package and Nickelodeon will be included in this basic cable package." Nickelodeon then gets a fee per cable subscriber. Period.

      If the cable companies want to sell channels a-la-carte they are going to have to renegotiate every contra
      • by Khaed (544779)
        For the most part, you're right, however: EWTN is basically made up of televangelists, and they rake in money. EWTN doesn't have a lot of cost to run, either. There's no way the people who watch EWTN wouldn't pay up to keep the channel. Religious people do a lot for their religion, including donate money.

        (rant coming)

        I'd be happy not to have BET, EWTN, or Nickelodeon on my lineup. I might actually get cable if I didn't have to spend $50 for a bunch of shit I'll never watch. Lifetime -- "Television for women
    • Cable television is so over-regulated and wrapped up in anti-compeditive contracts and local-monopoly contracts that it's already outside the realm of "small government" and the free market. The only thing that can really effect it is changing the regulations.

      Personally, I'd like to see all of the local monopoly contracts get replaced by a full-bandwidth net neutrality rule. We have the technology to make all television be on-demand streamed over IP from companies other than the local telecoms. That's the

  • Go cold turkey (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bork (115412) on Friday June 15, 2007 @08:05PM (#19527647) Homepage
    I pulled the plug on my TV about 2 years ago. Not bragging about it, I just got upset about a $40 a month fee, biased news, empty programming, endless reruns, series based on previous series that were based on...., series based on commercials, 20+ minutes of commercials in an hour show.

    I took about 6 months to get use to being without the TV. I am busy enough with my normal life now that I would not want to lose the hours I use to spend watching it. It's strange now when I am at a friend's house while their TV is on, I get mesmerized / hypnotize by it, all intelligent thought is removed.

    A lot of people find it enjoyable; great for them, I found it to be an addiction.
  • HBO, Showtime, and similar channels will migrate to IPTV much quicker. That is, until the government decides that belongs to them too.
  • And - who are they(*) trying to fool?

    Holier than thou on one side, on the other side taking money, lying, a hive of intrigues with a moral of cheating on their wifes going to prostitutes - ahem, escort services and getting neck massages - ....

    The "forbidden" 6 (?) words: fuck, shit... are used in daily life - and?

    It's all a big smoke screen to hide the real issues that a large part of the population is getting sucked on!

    *) they: "democratic" representatives watching out for you, so you are not taking an

  • First off, yes, I work for a certain large cable providers. I am pretty low on the food chain, and I do not speak for my employers, blah blah blah.

    There are 3 major obstacles that will stop this from saving money for customers.

    To make this work, the cable providers will need to scramble everything beyond the basic local broadcast channels(which they are required to carry by law for every subscriber. At least in Massachusetts). So for customers who don't have a cable box on TVs but have the standard cable ch
  • Why should kids who's parents have cable be abused, by being forced to watch the crap that is on the cable channels these days?
  • I work for a small cable company, and a la carte would S U C K for small companies.
    Provisioning customer based on a per-channel basis would be an absolute nightmare with any of the software we've seen.

    Right now we have 2 main channel packages [paulbunyan.net]and a few add-on packages [paulbunyan.net]. The 2 main packages are basically broken into "all normal cable channels" and "all normal cable channels, plus premium movie channels". These blocks are based on contracts that we have with the networks that we pay on a per-subscribe
  • From a market value perspective ala carte just makes no sense at all. Yes you get a lot of channels you don't, no you're not paying for them. Whoever is appropiating value from them is paying for them. Remember: it costs NOTHING to provide you a channel of cable. The content and distribution network is already there. Marginal cost is truly zero.

    Everyone has different value amounts on each channel. It can be arguably assumed the value of no channel is negative. So what do you do? You try to come up with a bu
  • Iran has decided to impose the death penalty [cnn.com] on porn stars. And every news station you'll see tells you that Iran is EEEEEVVILLL and is completely backwards. With a bill like this in Congress, what does that make us?

    Its times like these when I am just plain disappointed in our country.

  • Well, I don't think anyone realistically believes you can save money by cafeteria channel selection. So it's likely a back door project to legalize cafeteria pricing so the channels you purchase today can be even more expensive tomorrow. Personally I like have some non-standard channels around. Sometimes they have really intersting stuff on them. But I don't know about them at the time I make my cafeteria selections.

    I don't think I mind the content regulations. I'm getting tired of a show, in order to

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