The US cable TV industry is preparing to spend millions of dollars in the hope of avoiding the imposition of government indecency regulations.

Cable companies will donate around $250 million (€193m; £131m) of airtime to a Take Control. It's Easy advertising campaign explaining to American parents how they can block objectionable shows from children's view. Program rating icons will also be shown after each commercial break as well as at the start of each show.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association strategy is an attempt to head off federal legislation which currently covers only broadcast TV.

But lobbying for extension of the rules to cable and satellite television - which serve 85% of US homes - is gaining momentum among the nation's neopuritans and certain republican senators [WAMN: 21-Apr-05].

Some cable critics say customers should not have to pay for 'indecent' programs which they then have to block. They want viewers to be able to buy special family programming packages.

Kenneth Martin, the new chairman of media watchdog, the Federal Communications Commission, is a champion of this approach.

He says he supports "providing parents with additional information, but I think the cable industry needs to do more to address parents' legitimate concerns. I continue to believe the cable industry should offer a family tier or offer programming in a more a la carte manner."

Data sourced from multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff