May 31, 2000

AT&T to offer digital porn on cable systems: Ma Bell reaches into the septic tank

NEWS RELEASE from MORALITY IN MEDIA, Inc.

NEW YORK (31 May 2000)-In response to today’s Wall Street Journal report that AT&T has struck a deal to carry “a hard-core adult movie channel” on its digital cable TV systems, Morality in Media President Robert W. Peters commented:

“There are two bulwarks against the moral corruption of individuals and of society: the exercise of individual and corporate responsibility and the exercise of government’s historic police power to protect what previous Supreme Court decisions have described as the ‘social interest in order and morality.'”Last week, the Supreme Court decided U.S. v. Playboy, which further undermined the power of government to protect the community, family life and children from the harmful effects of pornography.

“This week, a company once affectionately called ‘Ma Bell’ decided to add a porn channel to its digital cable lineup that is so explicit (or otherwise so vile) that, according to the Wall Street Journal, even Time Warner Cable passed on it. [Time Warner Cable already provides Playboy-owned channels; and earlier this year, Time Warner signed a multi-year agreement with New Frontier Media, a self-described ‘leader’ in the distribution of ‘adult entertainment,’ to provide content for Time Warner’s video-on-demand services.]

“AT&T’s programming chief says that the deal ‘is about supplying programming that meets the desires of our customers.’ Are we then to believe that AT&T may soon also be providing programming that specializes in anti-semitic, ethnic, homophobic, misogynist or racist ‘humor’ if it meets the ‘desires’ of enough viewers to be profitable?

“Or is the true explanation that corporate ‘standards’ at AT&T have simply sunk into the septic tank where not too long ago, only organized crime controlled porn businesses dared to dwell?

“The president of the porn channel told the Journal that he has ‘great respect for [AT&T] for obvious reasons.’ What could those ‘obvious’ reasons possibly be? Are we to ‘respect’ AT&T for disseminating into the home an addictive product that debases human sexuality, destroys marriages, corrupts children and contributes to sexual crimes?

“Are we to ‘respect’ AT&T for ignoring the countless news reports about the role porn frequently plays in sexual harassment cases brought against corporations, small and large? And about the disruption that pornography addiction plays in the personal lives of employees and how that can affect worker productivity?

“Is AT&T aware that there is a federal obscenity law (18 U.S.C. 1468) that prohibits obscene material on cable TV? Is it confident the current administration in Washington won’t enforce that law? Does it believe community standards of decency throughout the U.S. have sunk as low as corporate ‘standards’ apparently have at AT&T?

“Does AT&T’s Board of Directors approve of this assault on public morality and on America’s families and children??”

MORALITY IN MEDIA is a nonprofit national interfaith organization, with headquarters in New York City, working through constitutional means to curb traffic in obscenity and to uphold standards of decency in the mainstream media.

Author: Patrick McGrath   05/31/2000

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