In attempt to prevent government from interfering with their business, six cable operators told a Senate committee yesterday that they will begin offering a new bundle of channels guaranteed to be free of pornography. According to The Wall Street Journal, the new package would allow consumers to get a basic combination of channels that doesn’t include MTV and other channels that parents groups say often carry risqu¿rogramming.
Cable operators hope this new offering will avoid a threatened Congressional mandate to sell cable service a la carte, with consumers picking and choosing individual channels. While popular with consumers and advocacy groups, a la carte has been opposed by some cable operators, who say it would cut into their revenue. Even defining what qualifies as a family-friendly channel will be tricky. Viacom’s Nickelodeon channel, the No. 1 cable network among children, would seem ideally suited for such a designation, but it has drawn the ire of some conservative groups who question the sexual orientation of “SpongeBob SquarePants,” one of the network’s biggest cartoon stars.
Some consumers who want the family package will have to initially pony up a few extra dollars to take advantage of the deal, since they’ll need a set-top digital cable box to receive the channels. However, their monthly bill may not rise because the family tier would cost less.