Fox Will Rate Shows for Sex, Violence: System Would Augment V-Chip
Abrahms, Doug, Duin, Julia, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The network that brought us "Melrose Place" and "Married . . . With Children" announced yesterday that it will start rating its programs for sex and violence.
Fox Television said it will institute a movielike rating system regardless of what other broadcasters use to inaugurate the V-chip - an electronic filter allowing parents to block out violent and salacious programs in their homes.
Television manufacturers already are developing the equipment.
"Our goal is to help parents by providing them with information while continuing to respect the creative freedom of our producers," said Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., which owns Fox.
The V-chip has become a rallying cry for media critics of all political stripes who have wanted to reduce the amount of sex and violence children view each day.
Fox and the other three major broadcast networks have been meeting on whether to rate TV programs on content. The new telecommunications law, signed by President Clinton last week, requires the broadcasters to start ratings within a year and gives the Federal Communications Commission the authority to step in if they don't.
ABC spokeswoman Julie Hoover said yesterday the network had been meeting with the others to consider setting up a rating system. NBC and CBS officials did not respond to requests for comment.
"The networks have finally turned off the industry `mute' button and started listening to the cries of parents for more information about the programming available to their children," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, a strong advocate of the V-chip.
Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, said he would not be satisfied until networks at least re-establish the traditional "family hour" between 8 and 9 p.m.
"At best we appealed to their highest instincts," Mr. Lamar said. "At worst it was political pressure. Let's hope they were responding to public sentiment."
Television manufacturers already are developing standards for the V-chip, said John Taylor, a Zenith Electronics spokesman. …