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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 16:28 GMT
Cable TV 'should protect young'
Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction sparked an indecency crackdown
Cable and satellite TV channels should do more to protect children from shows featuring sex and swear words, the chief US communications regulator said.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said networks should aid parents in making choices.

He warned if cable and satellite channels did not protect against indecency they could face being regulated by the FCC.

US TVs are required to have a V-Chip able to block shows based on a rating.

But currently, obscenity and indecency rules apply only to over-the-air broadcasters.

"You can always turn the television off and of course block the channels you don't want but why should you have to?" said Mr Martin.

But he told a Congress hearing: "Parents need better and more tools to help them navigate the entertainment waters, particularly on cable and satellite TV.

"I think the industry needs to do more to address parents' concerns," he added.

Police indecency

One of his suggestions was to allow parents to buy packages of "family-friendly" channels, not subscribing to those they did not want their children to see.

He said that if channel providers did not find a way to effectively police indecency then laws may have to be considered.

At the hearing representatives from cable and satellite operations defended their practices and said they had been creating tools to aid parents in their choices.

Kyle McSlarrow, head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association said the government did not need to intervene because the industry would adhere to self-regulation.

Since the Janet Jackson incident in 2003 in which her breast was exposed during a performance, the issue of indecency has been a hot topic in the US.

The Christian Coalition urged lawmakers to increase fines for indecency from $32,500 (18,540) per violation to $500,000 (289,700).

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