Can a city ban pornographic films on cable TV?

Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre wants to try, for the sake of young children, he says. He sought - and got - backing from the city commission to put a referendum on November's ballot. It will ask whether the city should allow pornographic films on the cable TV system being started there.

If Miami tries to censor pornographic films, it will likely run into legal challenges based on the first amendment freedom of speech, says an American Civil Liberties Union official.

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Other cities have tried to ban such films by carefully worded contracts with the cable franchiser, says Michael Botein, a media legal expert. Botein says the best control on such films is that in the long run, ''people are going to loose their interest in them.'

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