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Big Media’s Push Back

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Updated

Media moguls fear that the latest government effort to limit violence on television could lead to actual limits on programming — a prospect that the industry has largely avoided through the years with its own efforts at self-regulation and censorship.

The difference this time around is that (a) some FCC commissioners believe that there is a way to define violent programming — and they have their own partial solution in mandating that cable companies offer “ala carte” channels; and (b) the entire debate is festering in the run up to a presidential election year.

“This is an example of government intrusiveness at nearly its worse,” Peter Chernin, chief operating officer of News Corp., said at the NCTA convention. “There are a lot of things we can do to regulate content in this world but I’m not sure there are many Americans who really believe that government’s the right place to do that.”

Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons indicated that the industry had not done enough to match the efforts of public interest groups that seek to limit violent programming.

“There are entrenched and very vocal and well-funded minority groups that have a point of view and they are distorting this conversation in my view,” said Parsons.

“Ala carte” would allow consumers to pick and choose what channels they want in their cable lineup, thereby giving them the option of avoiding offerings that are violent or indecent. The advantage to FCC chairman Kevin Martin, a proponent of this plan, is that on its face it sounds consumer friendly. Is there a cable customer out there who doesn’t complain about getting some of the obscure offerings. The cable industry, however, believes it will be devastating to some of the lesser rated channels, and predicts that it will result in an increase in cable rates.

The question will be how the industry responds via lobbying and action. The last major government push to regulate violence came with the introduction of the V-chip and TV ratings system — but many lawmakers regard those two efforts as insufficient.

Thompson, Take Two: The Politico reports that Fred Thompson is remaking his stump speech, apparently in response to lackluster reviews of his performance at the Lincoln Club last week.

You Tube Politics: The Politico also has another examination of elections in the age of You Tube, which has made it much harder for candidates to master the art of flip flop. And Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott has his own take.

“Sicko” Release: After it is screened at Cannes, Michael Moore’s “Sicko” will rollout on June 29.

Indie Arnold: Newsweek’s Howard Fineman says that Republicans should be worried about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body language at last week’s debate — which wasn’t exactly hop skippity over the field of contenders. Fineman posits that Arnold could influence a third party candidacy of a Michael Bloomberg — and that next’s year’s primary schedule makes conditions ripe for such an independent run.

And…Don’t count on Schwarzenegger to grant Paris Hilton a pardon.

       

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