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Statement of FCC Chairman William E. Kennard
Launch of Odyssey V-Chip PSA
Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C.
May 16, 2000

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Thank you Margaret (Loesch) for that warm introduction.

This event is a celebration of one of the great success stories of the digital age.

The V-Chip represents the best use of technology: It gives parents the decision-making tools they need to select the appropriate programming for their children. They can child-proof their homes for the Information Age.

This is a market-based solution that uses the ingenuity of industry to address a public problem.

And it shifts decision-making to America's living rooms, where it belongs, and away from Washington.

It also protects everyone's program-viewing rights.

One of the V-Chip program's creators, Congressman Markey, is rightly called the "father of the V-Chip." Without Congressman Markey, the V-Chip might still be languishing in a lab.

Another prime mover, Commissioner Tristani, could not be here today. Once the V-Chip was law, at my request she led the charge at the Commission, and we owe her a great debt of gratitude for her leadership.

Her V-Chip task force ensured that manufacturers stayed on schedule, and that cable and broadcasting networks coded their programs so parents could use the V-Chip to select programming. Today the task force is at work with programmers and children's advocacy groups to make parents aware of the power the V-Chip gives them.

And we are here today to applaud the efforts of Odyssey Network and its V-Chip campaign in the same undertaking - - to educate parents.

Odyssey's series of public service announcements (PSAs), starring Kermit, will educate parents on how to use this innovative technology.

Odyssey will make these PSAs available to broadcasting and cable networks, and Odyssey has teamed up with Circuit City, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Center for Media Education to provide booklets explaining V-Chips to parents at the point-of-sale.

The V-Chip program is a work-in-progress, and we still have much to do.

Commissioner Tristani tells me that some broadcast networks are not airing these PSAs at times of optimum exposure, when most parents are watching. CBS is doing a very commendable job, but as of last month ABC, Fox and NBC are airing the PSAs only once or twice a month at the national level. That may be why 39% of parents have never even heard of the V-Chip. This situation must change.

Much of the hard work has been done: V-Chip sets are on the market, and broadcasters, cable programmers and syndicators are coding the programming coming into those sets.

Now all we have to do is get the word out.

Thanks to Odyssey, Kermit, the networks and those present here today, I am confident that will happen.

Thank you.