The U.S. government helped clear the way for adult programming — such as the type seen on the Playboy Channel — to be available at times other than late night. The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that since cable companies don’t fully scramble sound and visual images from the programming for those who don’t subscribe, the government can’t force them from airing the programs during daytime hours. Opponents argued that the 1996 Communications Decency Act protected children from such programming but the Playboy Entertainment Group challenged the law as a violation of free speech. The court on Monday upheld a lower court’s decision that, constitutionally, there were other less-restrictive ways than scrambling to block out sexy images. The decision is believed to effect some 39 million households.