Smut Quickens Hearts At Cable Show

CobraBoy! (
Fri, 19 Dec 1997 12:28:11 -0800

By Christopher Stern

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Variety) - Cable operators kicked off the annual
Western Show convenstion here by publicly fretting about the coming
political backlash, as cable modem subscribers begin high-speed
downloading of Internet smut onto their bigscreen TV sets in their living

This could be particularly troublesome because many of the largest cable
companies, including Time Warner, Tele-Communications Inc. and
Comcast, are counting on cable modems to provide a healthy new revenue
stream. The cable industry promises its modems will provide access to the
Internet at 1,000 times the rate of conventional modems. The super fast
access will allow subscribers to download full-motion video over the

At the first panel session of the confab, The First Amendment: Cable's
Content Rights and Responsibilities, Advance-Newhouse Communications
chairman Bob Miron conceded that the high speed delivery of Internet
smut to large-screen TV sets could become a public relations problem.

"Hopefully, we will be able to defend ourselves by pointing out that
(pornography) would be available by any other means," he said.

Playboy Enterprises chairman and CEO Christie Hefner predicted the
hoopla about Internet porn would eventually die down as other content
becomes more widely available on the Web. Hefner noted that
pornography was an early driver of the VCR until mainstream content
began flooding the homevideo market.

"After the rush of popularity, it then falls to another level," Hefner said.

But in the meantime, "the high speed cable modem could raise questions
about whether cable TV is coarsening American society," suggested Court
TV anchor Fred Graham, who served as the panel's moderator.

All the discussion of high speed Internet porn provoked one cable
executive to suggest from the audience that the industry should consider
filtering its high speed Web service to make sure it is family friendly.
Conceding that it would make him unpopular at his company and in his
industry generally, Stefan Bucek, production and programming manager
for TCI of California's San Jose system, called on cable operators to get
out of the video porn business.

But "Law & Order" producer Dick Wolf, who also sat on the panel,
lashed back, saying, "What you are saying is truly horrifying."

Wolf, an outspoken opponent of the V-chip and its accompanying TV
rating system, said concerns about Internet smut are "another example of
Washington exploiting concerns about sex and violence for political gain."



Don't ask what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you. ...Megadeth

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