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fcclogo NEWS

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

April 4, 2000
Maureen Peratino at (202) 418-0506


Washington, DC - Commissioner Gloria Tristani, Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) V-Chip Task Force, has sent letters to the major broadcast networks asking them to recommit themselves to educating parents about the V-Chip. A recent survey found that 39% of parents have never even heard of the V-Chip.

The V-Chip is now standard equipment in all new television sets 13" and larger and permits parents to block violent, sexual or other programming that they do not want their children to see.

Commissioner Tristani said "I have been working on three goals. One, make sure the chips were installed in TV sets on schedule. Two, make sure that programmers were actually transmitting the ratings so that the V-Chip has something to read. And three, let parents know that the V-Chip has arrived and how they can use it in their everyday lives."

She said the first two goals have largely been reached but too many parents still do not yet know the V-Chip exists. The television industry, she noted, pledged to work to "educate the public and parents about the V-Chip and the TV Parental Guideline System." She noted that while all major networks have produced PSAs about the V-Chip, CBS is the only network to make a real effort to run its PSAs at the network level. Of the 59 total PSAs shown at the network level since January, 54 (or 92%) were on CBS. ABC aired only one at the network level and Fox and NBC aired only two apiece. Commissioner Tristani noted that, "If the goal is to educate parents, one or two airings over a three-month period is plainly insufficient." Commissioner Tristani did note that many network affiliates are running PSAs at the station level, but that these can only be seen within the station's viewing area and thus do not have the impact of network-level airings.

She said, "I hope all of the networks will recommit themselves to this effort. I know some in Washington think the V-Chip is 'old news' . . . but the average parent does not follow the debates here in Washington. Again, 39% of them have never even heard of the V-Chip. To them, the V-Chip is brand new. These are the people we need to reach. And we need to do it now."

- FCC -