Bill to make cable programming safer and cheaper for families

When it comes to cable programming, everyone knows that there's a few good channels in a sea of commercial pablum. A new bill introduced into the House of Representatives, however, hopes to change the programming structure to an tiered format, giving consumers more choice in what they allow into their lving rooms, reports Ars Technica.

When it comes to cable programming, everyone knows that there's a few good channels in a sea of commercial pablum. A new bill introduced into the House of Representatives, however, hopes to change the programming structure to an tiered format, giving consumers more choice in what they allow into their lving rooms, reports Ars Technica.

The Family and Consumer Choice Act of 2007 would force cable operators to offer "opt-out" a la carte cable programming, as well as a family choice option. It would also apply indecency standards that restrict indecent programming to the hours of 10pm and 6am to cable and satellite networks.

The bill hopes to address children's advocates' concerns that much of what's broadcast on cable is inappropriate for children. The bill mandates "real family tiers of programming," which includes all channels in the Expanded Basic Tier, aside from those carrying programming rated TV-Mature or TV-14 between the hours of 6am and 10pm.

An added benfit for consumers is that in the opt-out provision, they won't have to pay for channels they don't watch. The bill says that consumers who opt-out will receive a "credit on the monthly bill... for such blocked channels in an amount equal to the amount that such distributor pays for the right to provide such blocked channel."

Needless to say, the cable and satellite compnaies are gearing up for a big fight to defeat this bill. The argue that it would raise overall programming costs while pushing niche networks out of the market.

"In today's culture, parents are increasingly worried that their children are exposed to obscene, indecent and violent programming," Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), one of the bill's sponsors, said in a statement. "While there is no doubt that parents are the first line of defense in protecting their kids, clearly they need more help."

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