June 6, 1996

Morality in Media says Supreme Court decision will reduce the availability of indecent material on cable TV


New York (6/28/96) – Morality in Media today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court for upholding the right of cable TV system operators to refuse to air indecent material on leased access channels.  At the same time, MIM indicated disappointment with portions of the Court’s decision that indicated that the government had not presented a sufficient factual and legal case to prohibit such content on public, educational and governmental (PEG) cable channels.  The provisions of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 had been suggested to the Congress by MIM President Robert Peters.

Mr. Peters issued this comment when news of the Court decision reached New York today:

“The United States Supreme Court struck a blow today for the majority of Americans who have made it clear that they don’t want cable television to be a moral cesspool.

“We believe the decision, insofar as it relates to leased access channels, strikes an appropriate balance among the rights of all concerned. Providers of indecent programming are free to negotiate with cable companies for access and to peddle their wares in other media. But the cable system operators are once again free to exercise editorial discretion and refuse to carry such programming, which they will undoubtedly do because it had been forced on them by law in the past. They were, for the most part, unwilling participants. The system operators will also be concerned that if the indecent programming they permit turns out to be legally ‘obscene’ they will now, for the first time, be liable.

“Citizens will now be free to turn on their television sets in the privacy of the home without fear that they or their children will be subjected to leased access channel programming that, in the past, has carried grossly offensive depictions of sexual activities, excretory functions and sexual organs.

“The refusal to present the same option to cable operators with respect to public access channels is not as bad as it may seem on first reading. The Supreme Court went out of its way to imply that local authorities as a practical matter have the ability to prevent such programming.

“In addition, the Supreme Court indicated that the same factors that underpin the authority of Congress to prohibit indecent broadcasting are also present in cablecasting. Morality in Media reads these comments by the Court as a clear invitation to Congress to extend the 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. ban on indecency in radio andtelevision broadcasting to the cable medium.”

Author: Morality in Media   06/28/1996

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