Virginia Bottomley, the National Heritage Secretary, has refused to rule
out the introduction of the V-chip in the UK, despite warnings that it
could threaten commercial television as we know it.
In a key consultation meeting at the Department of National Heritage
this week, Andrew Brown, the director general of the Advertising
Association, told Bottomley that by undermining the mechanics of TV
advertising, the V-chip could deter advertisers from using TV.
Because the V-chip would allow concerned viewers to block out material
of an offensive nature, viewing levels for programmes - and therefore
for ads - will be difficult to determine.
‘The V-chip could play havoc with the reliability of audience data,’
Brown warned. ‘If advertisers don’t know what they are buying it can
threaten the commercial base of broadcasting.’
Arthur Prober, the executive director of the American Entertainment
Software Rating Board, told the meeting that advertisers could be
stigmatised if they advertise around programmes identified as containing
Prober also said that the V-chip ‘won’t by itself inspire better
programming or higher quality shows,’ he added: ‘Nor do I believe that
it will encourage the creation of more graphically sexual or
In her response to the briefing, Bottomley praised the quality of
British television, but she did not rule out the introduction of the V-
chip into the UK.
Bottomley has indicated that she believes Europe should take a united
line on the V-chip.
She has also spoken out against the impracticalities of introducing the
V-chip in the UK. ‘The V-chip throws up a number of difficult practical
questions - the impracticalities of its implementation may far outweigh
any benefits. But we should approach the debate with an open mind. Our
responsibility to our children demands nothing less,’ she argued.
But it is still possible that the V-chip could be included in the
The V-chip has already been endorsed by the American President, Bill