Martin: Cable Indecency Up to Congress


San Francisco -- Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said Tuesday that the agency would need to defer to Congress in deciding whether to apply indecency regulations to cable programming.

“The [FCC] is a creature of Congress. We implement what Congress directs us to. I think it will be for Congress to end up figuring out what they think the appropriate rules should be,” Martin said at the National Show here.

Martin, a Republican FCC member since 2001, became chairman last month. His concern over the years about indecent programming on cable and broadcasting has many wondering whether he will use his new clout to crack down on TV raunch.

Martin told reporters later that he continues to support the voluntary creation of a family-friendly programming tier as cable's response to parents concerned about inappropriate cable content for their children.

“I think this is an opportunity for the industry to not just speak to me, but to speak to the consumers and the parents whom we hear some of the concern from,” Martin said.

After Martin spoke, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow told reporters the industry does not support a government-imposed family-friendly tier, saying the establishment of such a tier should be an industry decision. McSlarrow added that the cable industry offers parents easy-to-use blocking technology to filter content they don’t want their children to view.

In recent weeks, the FCC has dismissed at least two complaints related to indecent cable content by noting that federal law authorizes the FCC to regulate indecency on broadcast TV and radio, not on cable and satellite TV.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) have voiced support for government-imposed indecency rules. But neither has introduced legislation.