Friday, Oct. 29, 2004
City begins talks with Comcast after residents porn complaint
By J. FRANK LYNCH
Officials with Comcast Cable have agreed to work with Peachtree City to make consumers more aware of the growing list of options available to parents who want to limit what their children are able to watch.
Last week, parent Teresa Clark told members of the City Council about the difficulties she had found trying to get parental controls installed on her home televisions after coming across an offensive program last summer.
I was channel surfing after 10 p.m. and came across a program that I would never want my children to watch, she wrote in a letter to Comcast officials.
Clark called the program, an episode of the popular Nip/Tuck series on the FX Network, pornography.
Clark said when she contact Comcast about getting parental blockers for her home's TV sets, she was told it would cost $14 per device. Further, it was about a month after her initial complaint before the company responded, Clark told the council.
I dont think its right for the community to have to go through this to get parental controls, Clark said, asking that before the council reconsider its contract with Comcast, please think twice about making it easier to get controls.
Mayor Steve Brown said he had heard from a number of families in the community concerned about the adult content on the FX Network specifically.
Brown said he was frustrated that it appeared the only way consumers had for limiting such content from their homes was by purchasing new technology.
Andy Macke, director of government and community affairs for Comcasts Atlanta region, said the company would send a letter to the council outlining the various options available for limiting viewing by minors.
It is in Comcasts best interest to work with the city, Macke said, because its franchise contract is due up for renewal early next year.
Comcast has about 8,000 costumers in Peachtree City alone.
What is acceptable to me may not be acceptable to you and what we focus on is offering customers choice, Macke said this week.
Censorship is a slippery slope, so we have options for you to control the ways information comes into your home. Its a constant educational process, and part of that is making sure people are aware of the options.
Macke said the company was in the midst of a public relations campaign that Comcast is conducting both independently and in conjunction with a national effort urged by the National Cable Association.
He said Comcast service supports the V-chip technology that is present in all television sets larger than 13 inches that have been manufactured since 1999.
Additionally, anyone who subscribes to digital cable service gets a box that has a variety of parental control features built in, Macke said.
You can block out specific channels, programs or time blocks, Macke said. And if a viewer is not a digital customer, or has a TV without a V chip, we will order you a server to block out a channel coming in at all.
Macke said the issue had become more heated since Janet Jacksons ill-fated wardrobe malfunction during last years Super Bowl.
There seems to be a feeling across the board that what were doing as an industry is good, but we need to do a better job of informing the people, he said.
As for Clarks complaint, The end of the story is we were able to take care of the customer once we were made aware of it, Macke said.
Copyright 2004-Fayette Publishing, Inc.