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BUSH FAVORS DECENCY STANDARDS FOR CABLE, SATELLITE

Presidential Comments to Editors' Conference Ratchets Up Issue

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- President Bush yesterday said he favored some form of content decency standards for subscriber cable and satellite networks, but said he still believed in the marketplace setting the standard.
Photo: AP
'I think there ought to be a standard,' President Bush told the American Society of Newspaper Editors yesterday.
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Answering a question following a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, President Bush said he was for some decency standards on cable.

'Ought to be a standard'
“I think there ought to be a standard. On the other hand, I fully understand that the final edit, or the final decision, is a parent turning off the TV,” he said. “I mean, the ultimate responsibility in a consumer-driven economy is for people to say I'm not going to watch it and turn the knob off. That's how best to make decisions and how best to send influences."

Congressional moves
Efforts by Congress to apply to cable and satellite TV the same decency standards as found on broadcast TV has sent a chill through the cable industry. Those restrictions would affect programming such as HBO's The Sopranos and Deadwood and the ability to show movies uncut. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in March said, "I think [broadcasters and satellite and cable operators] ought to play too, to the extent it's possible, by the same rules" as the federally licensed broadcast networks.

The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, has been urging that some FCC rules the federally licensed broadcast channels adhere to be applied to cable, or at least that cable subscribers have the right to a tier of channels free of obscene language and situations.

'Sending good messages'
At today's event, the president said: “I don't mind standards being set out for people to adjudge the content of a show, to help parents make right decisions. Government ought to help parents, not hinder parents in sending good messages to their children."

"But, look, I mean, we're a free society," President bush continued. "The marketplace makes decisions. If you don't like something, don't watch it. And, presumably, advertising dollars will wither and the show will go off the air. But I have no problems with standards being set to help parents make good decisions.”

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