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June 9, 1999


Thank you. This is a crucial time for the V-Chip. After years of being talked about as if it were real, the V-Chip is actually about to become a reality for all Americans.

When the Chairman asked me to head this V-Chip Task Force, my general charge was to ensure that the roll-out of the V-Chip goes as smoothly as possible. To do that, I thought we had to do three things immediately. One, we had to make sure the V-Chips are in the TV sets. Two, we had to make sure that the ratings were actually being transmitted so that the V-Chips will have something to read. And three, we had to let parents know that the V-Chip is here and how they can use it in their everyday lives.

Today, we're here to talk about goal number one -- making sure the V-Chips are in the sets. When we adopted our V-Chip Order a little over a year ago, we set what I thought was an achievable but aggressive deadline for manufacturers to incorporate V-Chip technology into their new sets. By July 1, 1999, half of all new models with screens 13 inches or larger were required to have a V-Chip. By January 1, 2000, all new sets with screens 13 inches or larger were required to have the V-Chip. I'm pleased to report today that all major television manufacturers will meet or beat these deadlines.

Some specifics. The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) has confirmed that all of the major set manufacturers will comply with the deadlines. These manufacturers include -- in alphabetical order, Hitachi, JVC, Matsushista,

Mitsubishi, Philips, Sanyo, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Thomson and Zenith -- represent about 90% of the market. Several of those manufacturers have representatives here with us today. I'd like to recognize them and have them come up and join me.

From Matsushista, which makes Panasonic sets, Paul Schaumberg.
From Mitsubishi, John Savage
From Philips, Tom Patton
From Sony, Janet Fitzpatrick
From Thomson, which makes RCA sets, Dave Arland

Ladies and gentlemen, congratulations on a job well done. You have given parents a useful tool -- for those parents who want one -- to help them raise and protect their children in our modern world. I should note that there are a couple of smaller manufacturers that CEMA has not been able to confirm one way or another. At this point, however, we have no reason to believe that any company won't comply with the deadlines.

I suppose some may wonder what the big deal is. So these manufacturers did what they were supposed to do and met the deadlines. Well, if there's one thing I've learned in my 18 months in Washington, it's that when someone does what they're supposed to do when they're supposed to do it, that's news. And when what they've done involves the protection of our children, it deserves our deepest gratitude and thanks.

Because without the chips in the sets, the system can't work. That's why I object when people already declare the system a failure, or say that parents just don't care about the V-Chip. I tell them: the system hasn't even been in place yet. Give it a chance. Up to now, parents who wanted to monitor what their children are watching had to be in the room with them, or maybe watch at the beginning of the show for the little ratings icon. The V-Chip was designed to reflect the reality that often parents can't be at home or in the same room to monitor what their children are watching. In millions of homes, both parents work or there's only one parent. These parents want and deserve the right to protect their children from material they deem unsuitable. Without the V-Chip, they couldn't. Now they can. So let's give the V-Chip a chance before we rush to any judgments about what parents do or do not want.

But in one sense the critics have a point. Consumers don't have a lot of patience. If a product doesn't work the first time they try it, they may not try it again. We need to make sure the V-chip works the first time a parent brings home a set and plugs it in. That is what the Task Force is all about, and that is what these companies have helped bring us closer to. The job is a long way from being done, but this is an important and necessary step.

Thanks to all of you for coming. Now I'd like to introduce Gary Klein, from CEMA, to say a few words.

I want to thank CEMA for what you've done and what you're continuing to do to make the roll-out of the V-Chip a success. In particular, I think the development of a sticker to help retailers and consumers identify V-Chip-ready sets will be an enormous benefit.

And I want to thank you, Chairman Kennard, for being here, and for all your support in establishing the Task Force and making the V-Chip a priority at the Commission. I'm proud to serve with a Chairman who cares so deeply about these issues.

Now, before I take questions, I'm pleased that we have a demonstration of V-Chip technology this morning. We have a set with a V-Chip in it that Panasonic was kind enough to loan us. Panasonic representatives will be showing us how the V-Chip works.