published Monday, November 2nd, 2009

EPB’s adult channel choices raise questions

EPB’s expansion from electricity to television is sparking questions over why the city-owned utility is marketing naughty movies.

At issue is EPB’s new video lineup that includes the Playboy channel and access to a number of adult movies as part of its premium pay-for-view offerings.

Critics object to a government-owned utility putting out what they say is pornography. But EPB says it has a free speech mandate not to censure a diverse programming menu, and it has gone to great lengths to control how consumers access adult entertainment on its new fiber-optic TV lineup.

David Fowler, a former Republican state senator who now heads the Family Action Council of Tennessee, contends there is no excuse for a government identity peddling porn.

“The government simply should not offer pornography stations on cable networks they own,” he said. “The government should not be more interested in making money than they are in disseminating material that has destroyed so many lives and families.”

EPB Vice President Katie Espeseth said the utility is responding to community standards and desire for choices. Comcast and the other municipal cable providers in Tennessee offer a variety of adult channels as premium services. AT&T, which plans to expand its U-verse television service to Chattanooga in the next year, also offers adult-oriented TV channels.

“Our decision to offer Playboy was really tied to our overall philosophy of offering more options and choices for customers,” Ms. Espeseth said.

Aaron Webb, vice president of legal services, said EPB has strict limits on underage people accessing adult movies, and under such circumstances courts have held that government identities can’t arbitrarily edit their entertainment offerings.

“The case law is pretty clear that any state authority who is involved in providing cable TV service shall not edit any content that is provided over the network,” he said.

EPB officials said they have had no objections raised to their channel lineup, other than complaints about the initial lack of the NFL Network on their video service. That network recently was added.

In preparing EPB’s television lineup for its “Fi-TV” service, EPB officials said they looked at what was available in the market and what customers said they wanted to see on TV.

“We do want to give people the freedom to view what they want in their own homes, but behind that we think we’ve given people some pretty unusual tools to help them manage what they can see and can’t see,” Ms. Espeseth said.

Parental controls and choices are readily available, and all of the adult programming is subscription-based, requiring the customer to request and pay for the service. EPB also has an adult block that will keep off the television anything that is rated NC-17 or above, including some MTV, VH-1 and other mainstream channels.

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k0di4k said...

People shouldn't concern themselves with what other people are doing in the privacy of their own homes.

November 2, 2009 at 3:11 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

David Fowler is a nice guy but he really needs to get a life if he is worried about what other people are watching in TV. No one is forcing him or his children to watch adult channels so ... live and let live.

November 2, 2009 at 3:53 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

"in TV" ... er, that should have been "on TV" :)

November 2, 2009 at 3:54 p.m.
Vandy said...

I see no great difference between adult television and the lotto. I don't use either.

November 2, 2009 at 5:17 p.m.
una61 said...

EPB electricity also keeps the lights on at the "Dirty Book" stores.

November 2, 2009 at 6:09 p.m.
Humphrey said...

I have comcast cable and there are tons of channels on there - I don't know who has the money to pay for all that, but it must be making some or they wouldn't have so much of it.

November 2, 2009 at 6:56 p.m.
daswasey said...

Has anyone pointed out to Mr. Fowler that if EPB cannot broadcast pornography because they are government owned, then by the same standard they cannot show religious programming either?

November 3, 2009 at 10 a.m.
jmthane said...

It is not the place of government to censor what people watch in the privacy of their own homes, and it should not be the place of the Family Action Council of Tennessee to attempt to dictate what the government may or may not do, nor to attempt to dictate how I live my life, including what I choose to watch, so long as I do not cause harm to anyone. If that offends your moral senses, then we're even, because you've offended mine.

November 3, 2009 at 11:47 a.m.
volstate said...

This isn't a matter of concern for what people watch on TV - it is a matter of using taxpayers to fund the distribution of porn. EPB is taxpayer subsidized. This is the same reason that Federal Funding of Abortion is against the law.

Nobody is trying to censor what is on your TV. What they ARE trying to do is see to it that TAX money isn't funding porn.

If EPB wants to sell porn they need to be spun off and made into a private business and cut all ties to taxpayer funding by returning the $250,000,000 municipal bond issue and their recent $111,000,000 federal taxpayer grant, file as a private enterprise and raise their funds in the private sector.

November 3, 2009 at 1:56 p.m.
k0di4k said...

Your confused about your figures. That money has been allocated for the smart grid, not for TV services.

November 4, 2009 at 10:39 a.m.
jmthane said...

Even if the TAX money was being used for TV services, TAX money isn't funding the porn. The people who pay for it are funding it. All the porn channels are a separate line item in the individual's bill, same as on Comcast, Dish, and DirecTV.

Don't want it? Don't subscribe to it. It's that simple. The government is not your nanny.

November 4, 2009 at 10:54 a.m.
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