US Cable Companies Firm up Family Viewing

14 December 2005

US cable operators are falling in line with the Federal Communications Commission's demands for family friendly viewing.

The media regulator, on a mission to stamp out indecency on US television, was cheered last week by industry giants Comcast and Time Warner, who said they were mulling a 'family-tier' service free from violence, sex and bad language [WAMN: 09-Dec-05].

Now, despite resistance from program providers, it appears more operators are willing to enter this controversial territory.

Kyle McSlarrow, ceo of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, has told a Congressional hearing that cable groups including Comcast, TW, Advance Newhouse Communications, Insight and Midcontinent Media - accounting for 56% of US subscribers - are now intending to offer a family tier early next year.

However, he warned that the decision was complicated because of existing contractual agreements between the operators and content providers. He also hinted that these concessions should head off any proposed legal moves by the FCC to regulate program content - moves which would be vigorously opposed by the cable companies.

Republican senator Ted Stevens, chairing the hearing, said that offering family packages would not necessarily avert a push for legislation. But he did suggest the industry could avoid any action if the move was coupled with an improved ratings system.

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff