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AT&T porn channel challenged by religious investors

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The US Supreme Court may have relaxed regulations restricting porn on cable TV this year, but that can't prevent dissatisfied shareholders from leveraging the Almighty Greenback against purveyors of filth in a free market.

Eight US investment bodies with religious ties have this week filed a resolution ordering telecomms Behemoth AT&T to issue a report "reviewing policies for [its] involvement in the pornography industry and [assessing] the potential financial, legal, and public relations liabilities" by next May. At issue is Ma Cable's partnership with Hot Network, which distributes porn to cable TV franchises.

The protestors, who control a whopping 1.6 million shares of AT&T, are led by Mennonite Mutual Aid, which controls MMA Praxis Mutual Funds.

"AT&T has recently expanded the availability and level of graphic, sexually-explicit content on its digital cable system through an agreement with Hot Network. The Company's involvement in the mainstreaming of pornography is a source of serious concern for shareholders on both social and financial grounds," the resolution says.

"The very nature of pornography demands a constant escalation of explicit content to maintain stimulation, as the addition of the Hot Network demonstrates; thus the current pornographic offerings can be presumed to be the first of even more graphic offerings to follow" (like pay-per-view executions?).

The filing demands an assessment of "the potential financial liabilities posed by possible violations of local obscenity laws and lawsuits from individuals and communities" and "potential legal issues related to the Company's connection to the pornography industry, including obscenity law violations, distributing pornography to minors, and possible collusion with organized crime in the sex industry."

The resolution has backing from Mennonite Mutual Aid Praxis Mutual Funds; the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church; Christian Brothers Investment Services; the Sisters of Saint Joseph; the Benedictine Sisters; the Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust; Catholic Health East; and the Reformed Church in America Congregational Services -- all of whom, collectively, own a big enough chunk of Ma Cable to be taken quite seriously by the board.

While we personally remain solidly fundamentalist regarding free speech, we can't help admiring the tactic. Nothing could be more fair. You want your cable porn? Fine; quit whingeing - organise your own pro-smut investment company and buy the damn stock. ®

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