A V-Chip for Parents Is Debated

Photograph: From left, Columbia Professor Eli Noam; David W. Kleeman, American Center for Children's Television, and Joe Peck, Electronic Industries Assoc. Photo Credit: Joe Pineiro.

On Jan. 30, Children Now, an advocacy group, hosted a roundtable discussion for the media on the controversial "v-chip" legislation pending in Congress, and the related issue of a proposed television rating system.

The v-chip is a device that would allow parents to block viewing of television programming labeled as inappropriate for children, either by voluntary ratings issued by networks and cable companies, or through a rating system the FCC would model. The forum took place in the Kellogg Center.

Business School professor Eli Noam was among the panelists. "I've struggled with this issue, as an academic and as a public service commissioner," he said. "I think [use of the v-chip] is the right way to go, although I would think that the best way ... in the future is an open rating system that would in fact make it possible for multiple companies to offer their ratings ... [It] could become a commercial service."

Jim Steyer, founder and president of Children Now, said the media should study the issue closely because it is one that "our President made a major point of speaking about in his State of the Union address and in which politicians on both sides of the aisle have made a central issue."

The conference, part of an ongoing national Children Now series on issues facing youth, will be broadcast on C-SPAN.

Columbia University Record -- February 9, 1996 -- Vol. 21, No. 16