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Court: Playboy Can Play All Day
Wired News Report

12:00 p.m.  30.Dec.98.PST
Playboy Enterprises claimed a First Amendment victory Tuesday when a three-judge panel ruled the company could broadcast its scrambled television channel at any time of day or night.

Playboy argued that Section 505 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 violated its right to free speech. That section, called "Scrambling of Sexually Explicit Adult Video Service Programming," requires cable TV operators to either completely scramble sexually explicit programming or only air it between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., when children are less likely to be tuning in.

Lawmakers argued that children could be affected by an incompletely scrambled program, because they could still catch brief glimpses of nudity, and hear the audio portion of the broadcast.

Technical hurdles prevent cable programmers from completely scrambling adult programming channels, relegating those channels to nighttime broadcasts only.

Playboy wanted the right to broadcast its visually garbled channel around the clock. The company argued that the restrictions would cause a loss of more than US$25 million in revenue over the course of a decade.

Jane Roth of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia and Joseph Farnan and Jerome Simandle, U.S. District Court judges in Wilmington, Delaware, agreed Tuesday that the provision violated First Amendment rights.

The court ruled that cable programmers could broadcast adult channels during daytime hours. The ruling also stated that programmers must still make a good-faith effort to completely scramble the signal.

The ruling stated that no clinical evidence exists to link viewing of pornography to psychological damage in children.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Related Wired Links:

Groups Challenge Antiporn Law
22.Oct.98

Playboy Renews Fight Against Telecom Act
23.Jul.97

Reversal of Fortune
18.Jun.97



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