Time Warner to Add Family-Friendly Tier

Dec 15, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Time Warner Cable said Thursday that it will offer 15 cable channels for an additional $12.99 per month as a family-friendly tier of programming that the cable industry said it would make available to customers concerned about indecent programming.

The package, which the company is calling the Family Choice tier, will be available to customers who subscribe to Time Warner’s minimum basic tier of service, which generally consists of 15 to 20 channels, including local broadcast stations, public and educational programming and government access channels mandated by local cable franchise authorities.

The basic package, which costs around $12 a month on average, can also include other channels, depending on the market, such as a shopping channel, C-Span or programming from the “i”network, formerly known as Pax TV.

Cable and satellite operators have been under intense pressure by regulators, legislators and family groups to make available more options to viewers concerned about objectionable content.

The channels to be included in the Family Choice tier are Boomerang, C-Span 2, C-Span 3, Headline News, The Science Channel, Discovery Kids, The Disney Channel, DIY-Do It Yourself Network, HGTV, Food Network, FitTV, La Familia, Nick Games & Sports, The Weather Channel and Toon Disney. The tier will be available in all 29 Time Warner markets by the end of the first quarter of 2006.

Time Warner Cable officials said the channels selected for the family tier had to meet four key goals: The channel must broadcast G-rated content 24 hours per day; unrated content must be deemed acceptable to and appropriate based on a network’s description of the program as well as based on content clauses the network has as part of its carriage agreement with Time Warner; live-entertainment programming is prohibited; and the channel must be widely distributed.

Time Warner subscribers wishing to get the Family Choice tier must rent or buy a digital set-top box, which features an expanded range of parental controls, including the ability to block programming on the minimum basic tier based on time of day, rating and channel.