THE DRTV and advertising industries applauded the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association’s (CEMA’s) decision to drop plans to endorse V-chips that could block out all unrated material, including news, sports-and commercials.
But that hasn’t stopped French firm Thomson S.A., which manufactures sets for GE and RCA, from planning to offer its unrated program-blocking V-chip anyway, according to published reports.
DRTV could have been hit hard had CEMA not backed down, for as Electronics Retailing Association president Elissa Myers points out, infomercials depend on channel surfing to capture audiences. And Eytan Urbas, spokesperson for infomercial producer Guthy-Renker, cites another problem-the difficulty of creating a fair ratings standard.
CEMA bowed to pressure on two issues. TV networks threatened to pull out of the agreement to use V-chips with a ratings system. Also, broadcasters and others saw such V-chips as undermining advertising revenue, which pays for most American television programming.
As of July 1999, set manufacturers like Thomson are required by law to install V-chips to filter selected programming in TVs with monitors 13 inches or larger sold in the United States. Congress intended the V-chip to work with a TV ratings system allowing parents to block out programming they didn’t want their children to view.