The FCC did a pretty remarkable turnaround last year on a la carte pricing of cable channels, suddenly deciding that it really wouldn't be prohibitively expensive for consumers. As we expected, the talk about a la carte has been little more than a tool with which to push cable operators to offer more "family-friendly" programming options, and it's worked. But apparently now FCC boss Kevin Martin thinks the so-called family tiers don't go far enough. While we pointed out several problems inherent in a cable company trying to determine a package of universally non-offensive programming -- while managing to make it attractive to customers -- implementing a la carte just to satisfy the puritans among us isn't the answer. Plenty of options exist to protect people's easily offended sensibilities, whether it's the V-Chip or other parental controls, or the ridiculously radical ideas of parents either paying more attention to what their kids watch, or -- gasp -- getting rid of the cable or TV altogether, if it's so offensive. Mixing morality with telecommunications regulation is a dangerous game, with the almost certain outcome of more inefficient marketplace, rather than encouraging competition, improving service and lowering prices.
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