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High court: Playboy must block totally

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the government can begin enforcing a law that requires cable operators to completely block both the audio and video signals offered by sexually oriented pro-grammers such as Playboy Television and Graff Pay-Per-View.

The decision could go into effect within 25 days, according to lawyers for Playboy. Playboy and Graff, which has changed its name to Spice Entertainment since the case was filed, had asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block the rule from going into effect while they argue it violates their First Amendment rights to free speech in a lower court.

The decision is a defeat for both Playboy and Graff, which argued that the law infringed upon their rights to free speech since its enforcement would kick them off many cable systems which can not afford to upgrade their blocking technology. The blocking law was included as a provision in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Lawyers for the government argued that current efforts by cable systems to block the programming are ineffective. Although cable systems block the Playboy Channel and Graff’s Spice channels, some video and particularly audio still leak through.

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