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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The V-Chip and TV Ratings: Monitoring Children’s Access to TV Programming

Patricia Moloney Figliola
Specialist in Internet and Telecommunications Policy

To assist parents in supervising the television viewing habits of their children, the Communications Act of 1934 (as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996) requires that, as of January 1, 2000, new television sets with screens 13 inches or larger sold in the United States be equipped with a "V-chip" to control access to programming that parents find objectionable. Use of the V-chip is optional. In March 1998, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted the industry-developed ratings system to be used in conjunction with the V-chip. Congress and the FCC have continued monitoring implementation of the V-chip. Some are concerned that it is not effective in curbing the amount of TV violence viewed by children and want further legislation.

On August 31, 2009, the FCC released a report implementing the Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007. In the act, Congress had directed the FCC to examine "the existence and availability of advanced blocking technologies that are compatible with various communications devices or platforms." Congress defined "advanced blocking technologies" as "technologies that can improve or enhance the ability of a parent to protect his or her child from any indecent or objectionable video or audio programming, as determined by such parent, that is transmitted through the use of wire, wireless, or radio communications." Congress's intent in adopting the act was to spur the development of the "next generation of parental control technology." In a second inquiry issued in October 2009, the FCC is addressing additional issues it was unable to fully address based on its first inquiry

Date of Report: July 20, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: RL32729
Price: $29.95

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