The new censor chip is called V-chip, that is short for violence chip, and is placed inside a TV set and censors programmes by reading their classification code. It had been invented by a professor at the University of Vancouver and the US President Clinton signed a Telecommunications Bill which says that from 1998 all new TV sets with a screen size of 13 inches or more sold in America will have to have a V-chip. Clinton had explained this action, because he thought that the huge ammount of sex and violance an TV are the major reasons for the high levels of crime and family breakdown.
How exactly will the V-chip work?
Every programme which is shown on TV will be given a code that can be read by the V-chip which censors the materials according to four categories: violance, sex, bad language or an age classification.This code will be transmitted as a signal along with each programme and picked up by the V-chip. Every category will have a rating of one to five, with five the most liberal and one the most restrictive. Parents only have to define the levels for each category and when a programme comes that exceeds one of the levels a warning would appear on the TV sreen making the picture unrecognizable and switching channels. (The planned start of the V-chips in 1998 couldn\'t be fulfilled, but the government wants to introduce it at the begining of the year 2000.)
Is the V-chip coming over to Europa soon?
The European Parliament voted for the compulsory introduction of V-chips into every new TV set sold in Europe. But if the European Parliament really makes it law, then also a Europe - wide body would have to set the European standard for each tolerance level. The problem is that the 15 member states have to agree on what a dangerous level of sex or violence is.
But even if the standards could be set on a national basis, another problem would be if the regulators, the Government or the broadcasters should make that. Therefore it is rather unlikely that the V-chip will find its way to our homes in the near future. One of the reasons why the V-chip has come about in the USA is that TV there is now almost completely unregulated.