The V-Chip in Canada and the United States: Themes and Variations in Design and Deployment

By McDowell, Stephen D.; Maitland, Carleen | Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Fall 1998 | Go to article overview

The V-Chip in Canada and the United States: Themes and Variations in Design and Deployment


McDowell, Stephen D., Maitland, Carleen, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media


In the mid-1990s, both Canada and the United States introduced policy instruments to address concerns about the effects of violent television programs on children. The policy instruments of each country focus on labeling television program content. These measures supplemented long-standing legal and self-regulatory mechanisms that controlled the content of audiovisual communication, either through promises of performance to obtain broadcast licenses, or the use of ratings for films or sound recordings.

This research considers the design and introduction of V-Chip technologies in Canada and the U.S. These technologies block programming that exceeds the viewers' chosen threshold levels of sexual content, coarse or suggestive language, or violence. These levels are indicated by program rating information provided by broadcasters and distributed along with the program signal. Although the timing and thrust of the policies pursued in Canada and the U. S. are quite similar, the specific ways in which V-Chip technologies are being deployed in each country vary significantly. In Canada, where the decision-making process was driven by regulators, the system hardware is placed in the cable decoder box. This system serves to augment existing industry self-regulation of broadcast standards. In contrast, the U.S. system -- in which the decision-making process was the result of legislation -- the system hardware is placed in the television set itself. Instead of augmenting already existing regulations, the U.S. system was introduced as a new mechanism to deal with public concerns over television content.

How can the differences between Canada and the U. S. in policies for a V-Chip technology be best understood and explained? This paper examines the processes which led to these decisions and offers an explanation that draws from institutional and political economy analysis. It argues these technology choices represent important initiatives by advocacy organizations, and by specific legislators in the U. S. and regulatory officials in Canada. However, the shape of V-Chip technology choices also reflects the constraints which policy makers face.

Debates concerning the appropriateness of the V-Chip hardware and content ratings often focus on issues such as constitutional guarantees of speech rights and freedoms. This investigation goes beyond these issues and includes the industry and technical context in each country, and the organizational and institutional aspects of legislative and regulatory processes. These conditions and processes shaped the ways in which laws, regulations, and technologies were implemented.

Elements and Commonalities in the V-Chip Mandates

In March of 1996 the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) concluded an investigation aimed at identifying ways to deal with television violence. The CRTC issued a decision setting a deadline of September 1996 for the introduction of a fully operating V-Chip system (See CRTC, 1996a; Winsor, 1996). In Canada, the V-Chip package of technologies, policies, services, and industry responsibilities, includes the following:

   1. Broadcasters would set up a standard program rating scheme working
   through the Action Group on Violence on Television. These age-based ratings
   were proposed in April 1997 (Action Group on Violence on Television, 1997),
   and were reviewed and approved by the CRTC in June 1997 (CRTC, 1997b).

   2. Broadcasters would, by September 1996, encode programs they distribute
   with a signal to activate the V-Chip technology. This timetable was put off
   until fall of 1997 after industry requests for more time. Program
   advisories were broadcast in Fall 1997, even though the V-Chip technology
   was not finalized (See CRTC, 1996b, CRTC 1997b).

   3. Program distributors, most importantly the cable companies, would be
   required to make V-Chip technology available to subscribers who wanted it
   as part of their cable signal de-scrambler box and at a "low monthly" cost. … 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The V-Chip in Canada and the United States: Themes and Variations in Design and Deployment
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.