Editorial: Ed Board Takes Sensible Course On IPTV Content
July 10, 2000
Box 9399, Nampa, ID 8362-9399
The State Board of Educations move to require programming disclaimers on Idaho
Public Television was a reasonable response to a difficult situation state-mandated
intrusion into programming issues.
They had to do something.
This past session the Idaho Legislature passed a bill requiring the State Board of
Education to "evaluate, establish and enforce fiscal programming and accountability
policies" for Idaho Public Television.
Whether they agreed with it or not, education board members had to take action to
satisfy that legislative intent. And under these circumstances, we are impressed with what
the board came up with this past Thursday: a requirement to air disclaimers, at least once
a day, pointing out that the programs on public television may deal with acts illegal in
That may seem unnecessary, or even silly, to some. But it responds to the legislative
intent language without superseding IPTVs ability to air thoughtful programming on
sometimes difficult issues.
Thats an achievement, and we applaud the boards efforts.
We opposed the Legislatures bone-headed move to intrude into programming issues.
We still bristle at the thinly veiled reasoning behind the legislative intent
objections to public television programs that deal with homosexuality without condemning
it. Clinging to an Idaho statute against sodomy, self-appointed morality enforcers contend
that nonjudgmental programming about homosexual issues promotes a practice that violates
We agree with education board member James Hammond, who said, "We are bending to a
certain political view that really doesnt do anything to enhance the image of
But Hammond and the other board members unanimously approved the disclaimer policy
and we agree with that, too.
We see no harm in the rather wordy disclaimer, which points out that public TV and the
education board present programming to provide in-depth news and information valuable to
Idahoans and not to promote or support "the violation of any Idaho criminal
And we like the portion of the disclaimer that encourages "families to exercise
decisions as to values important to them to determine whether to watch" specific
After all, parents not lawmakers should decide which programs or issues
their children should have the opportunity to view and discuss. Programs about violence,
alternative lifestyles or other social issues often deal with actions that violate Idaho
law. They also can offer valuable information and insight. Individuals should decide for
themselves and their children whether to watch particular programs.
The disclaimer makes that clear. It does not single out or even mention
homosexuality or any other specific issue. It does not require Idaho Public Television to
seek permission to air programs dealing with controversial issues.
Basically, its a detailed version of parental discretion notices already in use
by IPTV and other networks.
The boards proposed policy, set for final approval in August, also calls for the
- Provide monthly reports on its programming decisions;
- Monitor viewer comments and provide a summary to the board, and
- Keep records of broadcasts dealing with education, public safety, lifelong learning,
cultural and family enrichment, character education, in-depth news coverage and
documentaries. Reports would be provided in a fashion "sufficient to allow the board
to monitor and review" programming decisions as required by the new state law.
It may not satisfy those leading the charge against IPTV, but the proposed policy is a
thoughtful and reasonable response to legislative and citizen concerns about a publicly
We are satisfied with the proposed policy as long as it does not infringe on
IPTV programming integrity or the variety of program choices available to viewers. And we
hope the board does not yield to possible pressure and impose more restrictive policies in
Board members were required to take action, and they did. They came up with something
we believe everyone viewers, programmers, lawmakers and concerned citizens
can live with.
- Our View is based on the majority opinions of the Idaho Press-Tribune editorial board.
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