Valenti: FCC Broadcast Indecency Regulations Debate Went Off-Topic

May 10, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission would apparently rather talk about the benefits of channel-by-channel cable pricing than indecency.

Former Motion Picture Association of America chief Jack Valenti was left hanging at a Wednesday debate scheduled with Penny Nance, a top FCC adviser, when the federal agency subbed in another staffer at the last minute to participate in the event sponsored by the Cato Institute in Washington.

The substitute, FCC Chief Economist Leslie Marx, steered away from indecency, using her time on the podium to promote the potential benefits of so-called a la carte cable pricing.

Mr. Valenti, intent on arguing about indecency, accused Dr. Marx of refusing to lock horns with him on the issue.

“Being the chief economist at the FCC, I’m not going to be able to give you the detailed response,” Dr. Marx said to Valenti’s prodding. Dr. Marx left the meeting before answering questions from the audience.

Mr. Valenti, who served as an adviser to President Lyndon Baines Johnson, said Dr. Marx’s presentation reminded him of how White House advisers had coached President Johnson to duck press-conference questions he didn’t want to answer by instead answering questions that hadn’t been asked.

“That’s what Dr. Marx did: Answer a question that wasn’t asked,” Mr. Valenti said.

An FCC spokesman responded that the topic of the Cato Institute event was parental power and that Dr. Marx’s speech had addressed ways to enhance consumer control over programming.