NEWS: Govt stalls ruling on V-chip launch

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.

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

sensitive material.



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

violent programming.’



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

Broadcasting Bill.



The V-chip has already been endorsed by the American President, Bill

Clinton.



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