Sen. Stevens Shown Demo of Content-Blocking Technology at NCTA

Apr 6, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Republican Sen. Ted Stevens’ visit to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association national conference in San Francisco this week has not convinced the lawmaker to drop his campaign to clean up cable programming.

In a series of recent blasts at the industry, Sen. Stevens has threatened to subject cable to the same sort of indecency prohibitions that broadcasters face if cable doesn’t voluntarily provide family-friendly tiers or otherwise address concerns about the edginess of cable programming content. But during his April 3 visit to the NCTA conference, sources said, cable industry leaders made clear their continuing opposition to regulation and retiering, giving the lawmaker a tour that included a demonstration of blocking technology that consumers already can use to keep objectionable cable programming out of their homes.

“Chairman Stevens hasn’t made any decisions yet,” said Melanie Alvord, a spokesperson for Sen. Stevens in a statement Wednesday. “He received a very good explanation of cable’s new approach to parental control. At this point he is not convinced yet that this is the total answer, but believes the cable industry is certainly working to try to find an answer.”

Said Brian Dietz, a spokesman for the NCTA, “We will continue to educate parents and lawmakers about the tools available to them.” Also during the NCTA conference, Kevin Martin-in his first public appearance as the Federal Communications Commission’s new chairman-said a voluntary crackdown on off-color programming by cable could pre-empt a regulatory response by government. “This is an opportunity for the cable industry to try to address … some of the concerns,” Mr. Martin said.