Britt: Blocking Technology Not in High Demand

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Washington -- Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt said Tuesday that cable subscribers are not pressuring his company to supply traps and set-top boxes to interdict indecent programming.

"The answer is no, people aren't champing at the bit," Britt told reporters at the Cable Television Public Affairs Association’s Forum 2004 here.

Earlier in the day, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association announced that the top 10 MSOs would provide blocking technology free-of-charge to consumers who need it and take steps to promote customer access to controls that filter programming inappropriate for children.

"In our case, in a number of our divisions, we are already giving the devices away free-of-charge," Britt said. "We had actually not told people here that we were doing that before."

Britt said he doesn't expect the NCTA commitment to be a cost burden. His company is considering issuing free digital boxes to customers who request blocking technology.

That move could represent a marketing opportunity to expand digital-tier penetration. "We haven't done that yet, but it might be," Britt said.

Britt said he wouldn't support a policy of giving refunds for channels consumers had blocked for indecency reasons.

"It's a form of a la carte. It's a different version of it," he said, adding to an earlier comment calling a la carte "a perfectly horrible idea" that would kill off niche channels.