Notes on the Media

FCC restricts explicit shows

Programming regarded as indecent can no longer be shown on cable television channels open to all viewers, according to new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules.

Such programming will be restricted to channels available only to viewers who ask in writing to receive them. The rule, issued last week, is part of FCC's implementation of the new cable re-regulation law.

It stems from complaints about sexually explicit shows on commercial leased-access channels that have been part of basic cable programming in some markets.

Manhattan Cable TV in New York, for example, was required by its franchising authority to provide a channel for individuals who were not part of a cable network to buy time for their shows. The program producers could make money off their shows by selling commercial time. However, concern arose over some of the racier programming.

The Supreme Court has defined obscene programming as appealing to the prurient interests, depicting or describing sexual conduct in a patently offensive manner and without artistic, political, or scientific value. It has not been allowed since 1973.

Indecent programming, however, is allowed under controlled circumstances. It is defined simply as language or material that describes or depicts in an offensive way sexual or excretory activities or organs. TV Kids Special with Clinton

President Clinton will appear with ABC News anchor Peter Jennings in a live, Saturday morning children's TV show originating from the White House later this month. The 90-minute special, "President Clinton: Answering Children's Questions," will air Feb. 20 at 11:30 a.m. E.T.

"We're taking the president up on his promise to stay in touch with the American people and to continue the dialogue he began during the campaign," Mr. Jennings said in a statement.

In addition to a "town meeting" audience of children in the White House, children at TV studios around the country will join by satellite, and young viewers at home will be able to join in. The special also features Jaleel White, who plays the nerdy Steve Urkel on ABC's comedy "Family Matters."

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