Published on Tuesday, February 8, 2005 by ABC News
Cable Companies Provide Porn While Funding Politicians
Critics Say Politicians Morally Obligated to Refuse Donations
by Jake Tapper and Avery Miller
WASHINGTON -- While its previous owners considered adult entertainment "immoral," Adelphia Communications Corp., the country's fifth-largest cable television provider, last week became the first to offer hard-core adult films on pay-per-view to its subscribers.
"It's a very lucrative source of funds," said Dennis McAlpine, a media and entertainment industry analyst. "The cable companies and the satellite companies are programming agnostics in the sense that they don't care what the programming is. It's what the viewers want to see."
Viewers can watch such sexually explicit movies in the Hilton and Marriott hotel chains on video services like LodgeNet or on "On Command," which is owned by Liberty Media, formerly a part of AT&T; at home via DirecTV, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp; or via virtually every cable company, including Cox, Time Warner and Comcast.
'A Really Smart Business Decision'
Adelphia's programming decision is being applauded by the adult film industry.
"I think they made a really smart business decision," said Tim Connelly, publisher of Adult Video News, the trade journal of the adult entertainment industry. "So today Adelphia, tomorrow Wal-Mart."
While the corporations generate millions in profits from providing adult content, their political contributions are often given to those elected, in no small part, because of their stance on "moral values."
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Cable has given millions in political donations since 1998. The national Republican Party committees are its biggest organizational recipient, with donations totaling $851,000. President Bush is its biggest individual recipient with $109,000 in donations.
Adelphia has given $166,000 to Republican committees, $17,000 to conservative Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., and $12,000 to Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., one of the most conservative members of the Senate.
"I always admired the fact that [previous Adelphia owner] John Rigas had the courage to stand up and say no to the adult porn industry, even when it may have cost him potential profits," Peterson told ABC News. "I am disappointed that the new leadership didn't have the courage to continue the policy of putting our young people ahead of their bottom line."
Santorum would not comment on Adelphia's decision.
"Maybe the Republicans will be a little more forthcoming about it now," said Connelly. "They certainly don't have any problem taking the money from it."
Conservative activist Donna Rice Hughes, president of the anti-porn group Enough Is Enough, calls these corporations "white-collar pornographers." She says politicians who espouse "family values" should refuse their donations.
"If their business practices, whatever they are, do not line up with the values of the politician, I think it's important to walk the talk," she said.
Adelphia says it does not "promote" its adult programming and is simply catering to viewers' "varied interests."
Pornography has never needed much promoting, but it does need distributors. Conservative activists say Adelphia's decision -- and the rush of major America companies to profit from porn -- is hypocrisy fueled by billions in corporate profits.
Amy Thomas and Bianca Slota contributed to this report.
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