Regulating morality

Outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is pushing for action in December on a plan to offer free, pornography-free wireless Internet service to all Americans, despite objections from the wireless industry and some consumer groups. according to the Wall Street Journal. I wonder who is going to decide what is pornography? And does this mean drug abuse, domestic violence, gambling addiction, infidelity, negligent or reckless parenting, over-spending, etc. are okay?

UPDATE: Rural Phone Companies Promoting “Adult” Lines Sued

My recent post, Paying for Porn, notes that the FCC is looking into an alleged scam in which rural phone carriers are collecting huge federal universal service fees for connecting long-distance calls to “adult” chat lines. Ever wonder which companies are alleged to have done this? Here’s a list, complete with map, from The DesMoines Register. AT&T and Qwest have filed suit against them. Telephone companies sued: Lawsuits filed separately by Qwest and AT&T allege seven Iowa companies have illegally collected fees. Copyright (c) 2007, The Des Moines Register.

Paying for Porn

The Federal Communications Commission is looking into a scam involving the attempt by local phone carriers in rural areas to collect more access fees from the major long-distance providers by increasing the number of calls from “adult” chat lines. Rural carriers have long received fees (up to 5 cents per minute) from long-distance carriers for every call they connect. The original intent behind this, of course, was to ensure that rural citizens have (subsidized) phone access. So when you make a call from New York City to your grandparents in North Dakota, Verizon pays an access fee to your grandparents’ local carrier for the connection. And the smaller you grandparents’ local carrier is, the higher the per-minute fee it gets Read More ›

Bundles of Joy?

Many parents are fed up with violence on TV, and rightly so. This has led many social conservatives to weigh in on the side of a la carte regulation. Self-described “veteran of the culture war” Paul Weyrich of Free Congress Foundation has now joined the chorus. Weyrich is certainly right to be appalled at the amount of time spent watching TV–so much so that he wonders if “the television set ha[s] become the equivalent of a parent.” And yes, “it would be simpler if Americans could simply pick the stations we want and not take the channels we do not.” We do not, however, have a right to demand that companies whose products we choose to buy package their product Read More ›

Cleaning up the airwaves

A poll conducted by Kelton Research last month for TV Watch found a big majority thinks parents should do a better job controlling what their kids watch on TV — and oppose a bigger role for the government. It’s Up To Parents to Exercise Greater Responsibility In Deciding What Their Kids Should Or Should Not Be Watching On Television 75% The Government Should Expand Its Control Over Television Networks And Make Decisions About What Everyone Sees 22% Don’t Know/Refused 3% Click here to read more. Earlier this year, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin renewed his call for the cable industry to voluntarily offer a family friendly programming package and not require subscribers to pay for programming they consider unsuitable. Last month Read More ›

FCC is Backsliding

A Federal Communications Commission staffer reports that commissioners are considering a 30% cap on the number of households a single cable operator may serve. Multichannel News notes that a cap would primarily affect one company: Citing Kagan Research, Comcast recently told the FCC that it serves 26.2 million subscribers, or 27% of the country’s 96.8 million pay TV subscribers. Under a 30% cap, Comcast could, in a few years, find itself refusing service to customers seeking to sign up for its fast-growing voice-video-data triple-play bundle. The 30% cap would also effectively block Comcast from buying a cable company with more than 3 million subscribers. If cable operators were the only source of video programming, it might make sense to have Read More ›

à la carte (continued)

I agree, as usual, with my colleague Bret Swanson that regulating cable pricing is an awful idea and that the debate over à la carte is moot in any event. Chairman Kevin Martin isn’t proposing to require à la carte programming, but he is impatient with the cable industry for not doing enough, as he put it, to give parents more tools to navigate coarse programming. Re-regulating cable would be a disaster. Just remember back to 1992 when Congress and the FCC tried to regulate cable rates and almost bankrupted the industry. There are many smart people at the FCC, but the effort to protect consumers from cable rate hikes proved to be too complicated and Congress had to repeal Read More ›