Senate Commerce Committee Schedules Hearings on Indecent Programming

Nov 22, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Signaling its intent to resurrect the legislative campaign against off-color programming, the Senate Commerce Committee has announced plans to hold indecency hearings Jan. 19. In addition, the committee announced that it expects representatives of a variety of industry groups will attend an all-day committee forum on the subject Nov. 29.

The groups that have agreed to provide witnesses for the open forum at deadline: ABC; American Cable Association; Christian Coalition of America; Creative Coalition; Clear Channel; Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association; Federal Communications Commission; Motion Picture Association of America; National Association of Broadcasters; National Cable & Telecommunications Association; PSV Ratings; Trinity Broadcasting Network; TV Watch; and XM Satellite Radio. According to a committee source, Sirius Satellite Radio-shock jock, Howard Stern’s home as of January, also was invited but declined.

In addition, the committee source said that CBS, Fox and NBC have also been invited. “To date, only ABC has confirmed,” the committee source said. The committee also announced a pair of hearings Jan. 24, one focusing on video franchising issues and the other on video content.

Among the topics expected to be discussed at the forum is the cable TV industry’s recent offer to accept legislation that would subject cable and satellite TV’s basic and enhanced-basic tiers to the same FCC indecency prohibitions that broadcasters currently face, with the understanding that cable would have an immediate right to appeal the constitutionality of the cable rules to the courts and that the rules would not go into effect until the courts ruled on the appeal. Leading lawmakers rejected cable’s offer, at least in the form it was originally offered.