DirecTV launching own family tier
- From: David <dimlan17@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 06:03:33 -0500
Satellite providers beef up 'family' TV
By Brooks Boliek
WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - As lawmakers continue to pressure
multichannel providers to give consumers the ability to avoid racy
programming, the nation's satellite TV providers are announcing the
establishment of "family-friendly" services.
On Wednesday, DirecTV announced a family package that will include 40
channels it deems suitable for "family" viewing. The channels include
Boomerang, Disney, PBS Kids Sprout, National Geographic, Noggin
and 12 public-interest channels, the company said.
"The new DirecTV Total Choice Family programming package is
appropriate for viewing by family members of all ages and includes
popular children's, religious and general family entertainment
programming," DirecTV executive VP programming Dan Fawcett said. "We
have answered the call from concerned parents and policymakers and
have designed a programming package to meet the needs of DirecTV
DirecTV's announcement followed several of the major cable companies
and came a day before the Senate Commerce Committee was scheduled to
conduct a hearing on the issue.
The hearing will bring together representatives of the motion picture,
satellite, cable and broadcast industries and representatives of the
media watchdog groups, which have filed the most indecency complaints
with the FCC.
EchoStar Communications Corp. was expected to announce the creation of
a similar service during Thursday's hearing.
At least one participant in the hearing said he expected the industry
to announce a new initiative designed to better educate parents about
what's available to control content.
Federal law bars radio stations and over-the-air television channels
from airing references to sexual and excretory functions between 6
a.m. and 10 p.m., when children may be tuning in. The rules do not
apply to cable and satellite channels or satellite radio, but
policymakers have been pushing cable and satellite systems to make it
easier for families to avoid racy programming.
While many policymakers believe that customers should be able to
purchase programming on an a la carte basis, cable and satellite TV
providers have countered with the family-friendly tiers.
Nearly all cable channels label programming according to the ratings
system developed to work with the V-chip program-blocking technology
mandated in 1996. In addition, motion pictures on cable carry the MPAA
ratings system designations. The cable industry also allows
subscribers to block out particular channels, though the subscribers
still have to pay for the channels.
Last year, Congress considered legislation that would increase the
fines for indecent broadcasts from the current $32,500 per incident to
$500,000 for a licensee and from $11,000 to $500,000 for an individual
entertainer. The bill also removes an FCC provision that gave
individuals a warning before issuing a fine.
As defined by the FCC, material is indecent if it "in context, depicts
or describes sexual or excretory activities or organs in a patently
offensive manner as measured by contemporary community standards for
the broadcast medium." Indecent speech can be safely aired from 10
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