TCI Bans Seattle PEG-Access Shows Again8/23/1998 8:00 PM Eastern
Tele-Communications Inc. has again pulled four
controversial public-access programs off its Seattle system for allegedly airing obscene
The MSO yanked Mike Hunt's Get Your Friend Laid
Tonight and The Mike HuntShow off its PEG-access (public, educational
and government) channel because producer Mike Aivaz was violating an agreement not to air
explicit or simulated sexual acts or genitalia.
"After a few weeks, it was a matter of progressively
pushing the envelope," TCI spokesman Steve Kipp said. "Our lawyers reviewed
tapes of the program and found that he was violating the terms of the agreement that he
In addition, TCI shelved Fulfilling Your Fantasies
and Adventure TV after producer T.J. Williamson was also found to be airing
increasingly explicit programming.
Kipp said TCI had not heard from Aivaz since his
programming left the air Aug. 6. The MSO has offered to reinstate Williamson's
programming if he abides by the same restrictions that were imposed on Aivaz, but
Williamson has not responded, Kipp added.
The four programs remain off the air pending the outcome of
a lawsuit in which TCI is asking a U.S. District Court to declare their content obscene.
It also wants "guidance" from the court on what restrictions it can impose on
PEG-access programming in the future.
This could result in an important ruling for operators
nationwide, as they are barred by federal law from exercising control over PEG-access
programming, but, at the same time, they are required to not carry obscene material.
"Otherwise, we'd be in a situation where every
weekend, the operator would have to go to court and ask, 'Is this programming
obscene?'" said Marshall Nelson, a TCI attorney with the Seattle firm of Davis,
Wright, Tremaine. "That's not a practical way to run a system."
TCI was scheduled to file a motion for summary judgment
Aug. 14, in which it planned to ask the court to decide the matter on the basis of the
materials already filed, thereby avoiding a lengthy trial.
Marc Levy, a Seattle-based lawyer representing Aivaz as a
cooperating attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said he planned to file his
own motion seeking to reinstate Aivaz's studio privileges on the grounds that
TCI's original suspension in May was unlawful.
If the court grants the motion for summary judgment, a
decision could be issued as early as next month.