The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

FCC censorship: Disney wants it extended to cable

From Jeff Jarvis, a tale of Mousewitz manoeuvres.

The politics here are complicated to a degree. The censorship issue is only a small part of a vast machine - we've touched on, for instance, the question of revision of the media concentration rules, the cable must-carry rules, down-rezzing, analog switch-off - and that, I'm sure, is just scratching the surface.

Disney - who straddle the cable-broadcast divide - are lobbying for extending FCC censorship, and for a new and specific reason: a la carte programming.

Cable makes its money by bundling channels; you pay for stuff you never watch, but it makes the revenues of the cable companies more predictable, and, thus, more valuable. (Non-economist's explanation!)

A la carte supporters - John McCain to the fore [1] - are taking a straight consumer choice angle; but also the Comstocks see a la carte as another stick to beat TV with:
Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, points to a "grotesque" scene last month on FX's critically acclaimed drama, The Shield. A police captain is forced at gunpoint to perform fellatio on a gang member while other members watch. "...The problem is, if you get basic cable, you get FX," he says..

Disney is, therefore, touting an alternative to a la carte for Comstocks who don't want to pay for smut.

Meanwhile, the Senate is in recess till June 1, and S 2056 has still to make it to the Senate floor, having been reported out weeks ago. Assuming it makes it onto the floor in time to make progress, the more crap that can be stuffed into it, the harder it'll make the conference.

There's surely no time to roll a la carte into S2056, to judge from the pieces linked below. Apparently, a
a bipartisan group of Energy and Commerce committee members asked Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell to study a la carte pricing and the middle-ground option of themed tiers[, and] wants the FCC to report to Congress by Nov. 18.

  1. He has, it seems, drafted a bill, but hasn't yet moved it. Also pieces here and here.

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