Magazine article Insight on the News

V-Chip Investment

Magazine article Insight on the News

V-Chip Investment

Article excerpt

If V is for victory, who wins with the V-chip? Parents who want to protect their kids from sex, violence and foul language on TV? Or broadcasters who might use the V-chip as an excuse to further erode standards of decency?

In July, the V-chip statute in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 went into effect. Half of all new TVs must include V-chips, which the viewer can program to block shows with specific content ratings. By next January, all TVs with screens 13 inches and larger must have them.

So far, however, the response to V-chips has been tepid. "We haven't tracked V-chip use since they've been out on the market," says James Harper, a spokesman for Thomson Consumer Electronics, manufacturer of RCA televisions. (In June, RCA made its 100,000th TV equipped with a V-chip.) "So far we haven't gotten a gauge on how many people are using the V-chips." Sony, another top V-chip manufacturer, is similarly clueless. "I don't know if we've gotten owner-registration cards back yet" for TVs with V-chips, says John Revie, Sony's director of marketing.

When the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed 1,000 randomly selected parents about V-chips and TV content ratings, 72 percent were favorably inclined toward V-chips. …

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