From March-September, the cable industry aired 2.8 million public-service announcements designed to inform parents about ways to filter unwanted programming by using set-top boxes, the V-chip and on-screen ratings systems.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association launched its “media literacy” campaign back in the spring, when the a la carte issue was raging on Capitol Hill, with proponents arguing that per-channel sales would help parents to keep racy cable programming out of their homes.
In keeping with its position that subscriber filtering of indecent content with technology was preferable to mandated a la carte, many cable operators agreed to provide free blocking technology to customers who need it and to accelerate public-outreach efforts, including the creation of a Web site (www.ControlYourTV.org) with information on locating family programming aired on 40 networks.
NCTA president Robert Sachs sent letters Nov. 19 to incoming Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) on cable’s “comprehensive new multimedia consumer-education campaign,” designed by the NCTA and Cable in the Classroom.
The PSAs, Sachs said in the two-page letter, encourage parents to use blocking mechanisms to screen content and to call their cable companies or use the Web site to obtain additional information.
Sachs noted that the 2.8 million PSAs, representing “hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial airtime,” contributed to the Web site’s receiving 182,000 unique visitors from May 1-Oct. 31. Last week, the cable industry launched a Spanish-language version of ControlYourTV.
Sachs’ letter did not provide data on the number of phone calls cable companies received during the same period in response to specific guidance provided by the PSAs.