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Policy

Comcast Commits to New Indecency Measures

3/04/2004 2:39 AM Eastern

Comcast Corp. promised Congress that it will redouble its efforts in assisting parents who want to protect their children from TV shows containing sex, violence and harsh language.

The company announced its latest plans in a March 1 letter from Comcast Cable Communications Inc. president Stephen B. Burke to the leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.).

In the letter, Burke outlined an eight-point program designed to provide parents with the tools they need to block and filter programming they consider inappropriate for children. Specifically, he referred to billing notices, on-screen communications and an updated Web page (www.comcast.com).

Comcast, Burke said, would continue to provide free traps to block analog channels and require every cable network it distributes to provide ratings for all of its programming so that digital subscribers can block programming based on ratings.

"Our parental-control features are capable of recognizing and blocking based on both [Motion Picture Association of America] and TV ratings," he added.

Burke's letter did not say whether the company would provide billing credits to customers who have blocked channels -- a policy advocated by Republican Federal Communications Commission member Kevin Martin.

Nevertheless, the MSO’s effort won praise on Capitol Hill.

"This is a laudable commitment, and I salute Comcast for its performance," Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) said.

Added Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), "I think [Comcast] has taken a very aggressive, positive stand. I hope the rest of the industry will follow what they have just done, particularly the labeling of programming."

September