BY ALICIA MUNDY Kevin Martin, a Republican Commissioner at the FCC, announced what is certain to be a controversial proposal — at least for the cable industry — to give consumers more family-friendly television programming and more options to keep certain networks out of their homes and off their cable bills. In an address last week at the National Association of Television Programming Executives convention in New Orleans, Martin urged more choices in cable programming packages, both to reduce cable costs to viewers and to promote family-friendly shows. Martin complained that much of the new programming offered by cable and satellite isn’t suitable for families with children. Discussing current cable packages, he said, “In order to purchase the family-friendly programming, they are forced to buy much programming that is not as family-friendly.” Martin also urged broadcasters to revive the so-called family hour, which mandates family-friendly prime-time programming until 9 p.m. on weeknights. And he asked cable and satellite companies to create a separate expanded basic tier with such choices as ABC Family, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Discovery, History Channel, National Geographic Channel, CNN, Food Channel and Fox News, among others. Barring that, Martin suggested more a la carte choices. Breaking up tiers and offering a la carte options is not something the cable industry wants. But the issue of family-friendly programming is gaining momentum in Congress, noted FCC staffers who asked for anonymity.

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