Advertisers, agencies and media owners are being summoned to an urgent
meeting to discuss the potential threat of a new piece of technology
which allows viewers to censor TV programmes they don’t want to see.
The European Parliament set alarm bells ringing across the industry last
month when its European Broadcast Directive called for all new TV sets
to be fitted with the gadget, called the V-chip.
But Britain’s Advertising Association fears the device - intended mainly
to allow parents to protect their children from violent programmes and
sex scenes - would make it impossible for TV companies to guarantee
audiences to advertisers, as it also enables viewers to screen out ad
Now the AA has called a meeting of its members at the Department of
National Heritage on 26 March where they will be briefed on the V-chip.
Lionel Stanbrook, the AA’s director of political affairs, said: ‘The
industry has to be concerned about the V-chip, but it’s clear we’ll have
to live with it.’
US agencies and TV networks are already seriously disturbed about the
development of the V-chip - short for violence chip - which was invented
by a Vancouver university professor and can censor programmes by reading
their classification code.
With V-chips set to become compulsory in all TV sets with a screen size
of 13 inches or over in the US from 1998, fears are growing that
advertisers will lose interest in adult shows such as NYPD Blue, which
will have to move to premium cable networks.