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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).

May 10, 1999
Joy Howell (202) 418-0500

Statement by
William E. Kennard, Chairman, Federal Communications Commmission
West Lawn, The White House

Today's Summit was a productive first step in trying to understand what causes youth violence and what we can do to prevent it. I want to thank the President, the Vice President, the First Lady, and Mrs.Gore for their leadership in calling this historic meeting and for their long-standing commitment to children and American families.

What became clear to all of us in the summit was that there is a digital divide in our country today. And it does not just separate the rich from the poor or the suburbs from the cities.

The digital divide runs right through our living rooms and across our kitchen tables, dividing parents and children - the young and the old.

Young people use new communications and entertainment technologies with ease, while their parents approach them with bewilderment and frustration. In a very real sense the old teenage complaint is true: parents just don't understand. They don't understand the technology, and kids aren't talking to their parents about what they're watching and down-loading.

It's vital that we close this gap because the world-wide web is just the cusp of a huge revolution in technology and entertainment.

In a few short years, we will be living in a digital world - a world where a limitless supply of information and entertainment will be streaming into our homes. An interactive world where there this data will be customized to our wants and needs.

That is why it's so important now to empower parents with the tools that they'll need to ably guide their children down the Information Superhighway and into this Digital Age.

We need to give parents - the people that know their children the best -- the ability to shield their children from images and themes that they think are inappropriate for their sons and daughters.

Just as with a click of a seatbelt we made it safe to travel down the interstate highway, we need to make it so that with the click of a mouse or a remote control it's safe to travel down the Information Superhighway.

We need to help parents child-proof their homes for the Information Age.

That's why I'm forming a V-Chip Task Force to be headed by FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani.

By working with industry, entertainment producers, parents, and consumer groups, the Task Force will make sure that the V-chip -- a technology to block television programs that parents don't want their kids to see -- is readily available and working.

We'll make sure that parents have information on how to use the V-chip to protect their kids. First, the Task Force will launch a campaign to promote the public's awareness of the V-chip and how to use it. Second, we want to make it so that when you go to buy a TV set, information about the V-chip is available, and the sets with this device are clearly labeled.

Finally, we'll monitor the use of the V-chip to evaluate its effectiveness, and how we can improve upon it if necessary.

I hope that the V-chip in conjunction with the TV ratings system will empower parents with one of the tools that they can use to help them manage this communications revolution. I hope that this will be a tool to help parents close the digital divide growing between them and their children so that in the end, we can give our children the childhoods they deserve.

Thank you.