A USA Today story speculates that expurgated episodes of The Sopranos on A&E could increase pressure on Congress to extend the FCC's indecency regulations to cable TV. I'm not too concerned about that possibility, since it's unlikely the courts would uphold such a law in the absence of the special "public airwaves" rationale for restricting the content of broadcast TV. It's true that broadcasting is no longer "uniquely pervasive": Nearly nine out of 10 American households now have cable or satellite TV, and pretty soon video on demand via the Internet will be similarly common. But the Supreme Court already has rejected attempts to censor cable and the Internet in the name of protecting children, and I think it's more likely to reconsider broadcasting's special First Amendment status than it is to put other video delivery methods in the same category.
I take it as a positive sign that the Parents Television Council, the source of nearly all FCC indecency complaints, has been reduced to blatant prevarication in its description of the shows on basic cable:
"There are cable network programmers whose clear and sole objective is to break any boundary without regard for what the consequences are for society," says Parents Television Council Executive Director Tim Winter. Some shows, he says, have glamorized rape, pedophilia, incest, racism and misogyny.
I think Winter probably has in mind Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Daughter-Raping Neo-Nazis.