AA triumphant in fight to defeat V-chip plans

The European Parliament is to drop demands for the V-chip to be installed in all new television sets as part of the European Union-wide plan to classify all TV programmes.

The European Parliament is to drop demands for the V-chip to be

installed in all new television sets as part of the European Union-wide

plan to classify all TV programmes.



Instead, Euro MPs will ask the Brussels-based European Commission to

carry out a detailed feasibility study into the V-chip as a means of

curbing violence being watched by young viewers.



The climbdown was expected this Thursday (20 March) during negotiations

between Euro MPs and ministers from the 15 EU states on a new European

broadcasting directive.



The decision is a victory for the British Government and the Advertising

Association, which has lobbied hard against the European Parliament’s

demand for new TV sets to include the device within a year of agreement

on Europe-wide standard.



The AA scored a second victory this week when its arguments against the

V-chip were backed by an influential Parliamentary committee.



The House of Lords committee on Europe said the ’practical difficulties

are immense’ and legislation ’would be hasty’. It backed the idea of a

feasibility study.



Giving evidence to the committee, Lionel Stanbrook, the AA’s deputy

director-general, said a secure case had not been made that violent

programmes create violent children and the V-chip was likely to be used

only by parents who did not need to use it.



Stanbrook warned that plans to give programmes ratings for sex, violence

and bad language could ’threaten the commercial base of independent

TV’.



Potential advertisers would not be keen to buy a spot during a high

violence-rated programme.



’To be obliged to rate each advertisement would become an insurmountable

task for either the broadcaster or an independent ratings body,’ he told

peers.



’As the V-chip could encode any signal, it might be possible to block

whole advertisement breaks or specific product categories, and

potentially threaten the whole structure of commercial

broadcasting.’



Meanwhile, British ministers welcomed the European Parliament’s decision

to reject demands to include in the directive curbs on advertising aimed

at children and for medicine, alcohol and teleshopping.



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