Nets Team Up on V-Chip Primer

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On the eve of the National Association of Broadcasters' responsibility-programming summit in Washington, D.C., the "Big Four" networks have gotten together with The Ad Council to create a V-Chip education campaign.

It will consist of PSAs that will steer viewers to each respective network's web site for information on how to program a V-Chip, plus some of the benefits of the system and an explanation of the TV ratings system.

At the request of the networks, who are under pressure from Washington to boost v-chip use, the Ad Council researched the issue and found that 80% of viewers don't know their sets even have the chip. Putting that together with the findings that while a majority were concerned about content, only 10% were actually using the chip, the council and networks concluded that viewers needed a lot more help.

Each network will produce its own creative for the PSAs, said Ad Council President Peggy Conlon, with the council hosting the Web content and providing links to set manufacturers. Conlon says that aggregating V-Chip instructions from the various set manufacturers is the key element of the campaign. She points out that even the manufacturers concede it is often not easy to find that information on their various Web sites. The campaign has locked up the url vchip.org.

ABC, for one, says it will begin airing its PSAs Wednesday. ABC TV President Alex Wallau, who testified in Washington several weeks ago on indecency, said of the combined effort:

“ABC believes strongly that we have a responsibility to enable our viewers to make informed choices about the programs they watch and those their children watch.  The V-Chip can play a critical role in these choices and we agree with Chairman Fred Upton and Congressman [Ed] Markey’s suggestion that a renewed public education effort about the technology would be useful and worthwhile." 

Markey and Upton are co-sponsors of the House indecency bill and presided over the hearing at which Wallau testified.

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