Did Kerry’s C-SPAN Statements Square with Record?


Statements made by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) last week on C-SPAN do not appear to square with a vote he cast three months ago supporting the application of broadcast-indecency rules to cable programming.

TV and radio stations are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission for indecency, which includes a ban on smutty talk and graphic sex between 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Cable programming is not covered by the FCC rules, which can carry large monetary fines.

When asked whether he supported extending the rules to cable, Kerry suggested that he did not due to the distinction between over-the-air TV programming that can be seen free-of-charge and cable programming that must be purchased.

“I think there is a distinction between public broadcast and the notions we’ve had historically about family time, family hour, and what you buy privately and personally. I am not in favor of government interference and censorship and restriction of what an individual privately can decide to do in their home, in their own space, so to speak,” Kerry told C-SPAN viewers.

The interview took place June 3 at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Mo., and it aired on C-SPAN Sunday.

In March, Kerry voted for an amendment in the Senate Commerce Committee that would have automatically applied broadcast-indecency rules to cable programming.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), would have lifted the regulations after the FCC concluded in a rulemaking that at least 85% of U.S. TV households with children either used the channel-blocking V-chip or had notified their pay TV provider that they did not want to use any blocking technology.

Breaux’s amendment was defeated by a single vote. An absent Kerry, who was on the Democratic presidential-campaign trail, cast his vote by proxy.

Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, has come under attack from the Bush campaign for changing his mind too often.

Kerry’s Senate spokesman did not have an immediate comment. A Kerry campaign spokesman did not return a reporter’s call.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which is lobbying Congress to block cable-indecency legislation, declined to comment on Kerry’s C-SPAN statements.

“We are not offering any comment or interpretation of what he said,” NCTA spokesman Brian Dietz said.