More Time Needed for Installation of V-Chips

Article excerpt

The technology marvel intended to shield children from violent or sexually suggestive programs keeps getting pushed a little further into the future.

Television manufacturers want the deadline for placing V-chips into sets extended until 1999, said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association. The Federal Communications Commission has not even completed the technical standards for V-chip technology, he said yesterday.

"There is more to designing a new television than just changing a few circuits," he said. "We'll do anything the FCC wants as long as they give us enough time to work."

Nearly two years have elapsed since the Telecommunications Act was enacted and the V-chip was mandated by law. Democrats and Republicans hailed the undeveloped technology as a tool parents could use to protect their children from unwanted sex or violence on television.

But Congress left it to the FCC to work out the V-chip details, and a final decision by the agency setting standards and timetables is not expected until early next year.

The FCC had wanted set makers to start building V-chips into televisions by July 1998. But changes were made this summer to the rating system, which added letters such as V for violence or L for language to give parents more information about programming content.

To take into account the new rating system, the TV makers asked the FCC for more time to develop the technology and then install it into television sets. Disrupting the production cycles to make televisions would force up the cost for V-chip technology, Mr. Shapiro said.

"Since there's no final system established, physically it's impossible to manufacture them today," he said. "The commission's [current] deadline would require manufactures to reduce the design cycle from 18 to six months, and that is not possible. …