WASHINGTON, D.C.–President Clinton in mid-July publicly endorsed legislation that would mandate the inclusion of an anti-violence blocking device, known as a “V-chip,” in all new television sets.
“This is not about censorship, this is parental responsibility,” Clinton said at a conference concerning families and the media in Tennessee.
The Senate added a V-chip amendment to its telecommunications bill by a 73-26 margin in early July. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), would require television manufacturers to install an electronic chip that would scan a broadcast signal for codes, embedded by broadcasters, which identify violent programs.
The bill gives the broadcast industry one year to create a voluntary rating system; otherwise, the president would appoint a five-member committee to devise standards.
Broadcasters largely oppose the V-chip. Broadcasting & Cable Magazine described the V-chip as “put[ting] the government in the publisher’s chair.” According to the Washington Post, networks and broadcasters argue that if the government created a ratings system or forced the industry to create its own ratings system, many First Amendment problems would arise.
The House will soon consider V-chip legislation of its own in a bill sponsored by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), former chairman of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee. (S. 652)
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