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Remarks Presented by Dan Isett of the PTC at the News Conference Regarding the "Family and Consumer Choice Act of 2007"

June 14, 2007


Good morning, my name is Dan Isett and I am Director of Corporate and Government Affairs for the Parents Television Council.  We are an organization of more than 1 million members from all across the country whose mission it is to protect children from sex, violence and profanity in entertainment.


Last year, Congress acted to increase the maximum possible fine for violation of broadcast decency law, but the reaction from the entertainment industry was to file suit, claiming that the s and the f words were appropriate to air during prime time television, and that – of all things – a striptease in the middle of the Super Bowl was somehow not indecent.  Clearly, the entertainment industry has lost its way, and is failing to live up to its legal obligation to broadcast in the public interest.


Last week, the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals rendered a decision inexplicable to Americans families: that the s and the f-word should be ok to be broadcast on the public airwaves at hours when tens of millions of children are in the audience.  While we’re a long way from the end of the judicial process in that case, and Congress may weigh in yet again, one thing is clear – if the entertainment industry really wants to give parents “complete control” of their televisions, as it says it does, then it would endorse the concept of cable choice. 


In its decision, the court cited the growing areas of graphic content on cable as justification for its ruling – but what about the millions of Americans who choose not to take cable in order to avoid that type of programming?   


Cable content is controlled by a handful of powerful media conglomerates who for years have extorted money from subscribers by creating new channels, adding them to expanded basic cable tiers, and forcing subscribers to pay for them – whether they wanted those new channels or not. Because cable customers have no ability to make a market-based decision, what consumers actually want has no bearing on what programming costs.  This results in subscription fees increasing at several times the rate of inflation. 


Cable subscribers pay on average nearly nine dollars a year for each cable channel coming into their home -- $9.60 per year for MTV, $9.00 per year for FX, and $7.20 per year for Comedy Central –multiplied by over 80 million cable subscribers, and it quickly adds up to close to hundreds of millions of dollars per year per network directly into the pockets of Viacom, News Corp, and other media giants.  What do cable subscribers get in return? – Here are just a couple of examples from this week alone:

  • Last night Season 4 of Rescue Me debuted on the FX network.  In addition to intensely graphic violence, incredibly explicit sexual content and frequent obscene language, the previous three seasons have featured four scenes depicting sexual violence, rape or sexual assault without consequences either for the victim or the assailant.  In one particularly disturbing scene, after a heated argument with his ex-wife, the “hero” shoves her onto the couch and rapes her.  At first she fights him off, but in the middle of the assault, she is shown to be enjoying the rape.

  • This weekend Comedy Central is airing the South Park “Dirty Dozen” – the twelve “most foul-mouthed, filthiest and sexually offensive episodes ever.”  Including the episode that used the word “Sh*t” 162 times, an episode in which a character watches his father masturbate, and an episode in which a teacher demonstrates to his elementary school class how to insert a gerbil into a man’s rectum.

Now I have no problem with adults who make the affirmative choice to choose and pay for content like this.  The ultraviolent Sopranos finale on Sunday night enjoyed a relatively large audience, and was only available to cable subscribers who chose to take HBO.  What’s at issue today is whether millions of cable subscribers should be forced to pay for content like The Sopranos – which is now being shown on the A&E network in the expanded basic tier – just to get access to the quality family, news and sports programming that exists on cable.


Let’s be very clear:  what is being proposed today is the creation of a free market in cable programming which does not exist today.


We commend Congressman Lipinski and Congressman Fortenberry for their excellent leadership on this critical issue, and we thank Chairman Martin for his thoughtful and forthright determination that parents must be given more and better tools to control the graphic sexual and violent content that comes into their homes. It takes real political fortitude to side with families and stand up to the millions of dollars the entertainment industry spends to buy influence in Washington.  But make no mistake - the American people are grateful that this legislation is being offered today.


I am proud to share this podium with all of you and to represent America’s children and families on this issue that affects the daily lives of millions.


To learn more about our Cable Choice Campaign Click Here.

To read the remarks presented by Dan Isett at the news conference Click Here.

To read the text of the bill, Click Here.


Statement by Rep. Aderholt  / Statement by Rep. Lipinski  / Statement by Chairman Martin





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