Volume 92, Issue 73

Friday, February 5, 1999


New ministry based on old idea

Zoo's future the focus of forum

Candidates given poor rating so far

Control will soon be in the box

Y2K test flies by successfully

Zolis looks beyond buzz words


Caught on campus

Control will soon be in the box

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

Parental peace of mind will soon be found in every television in the United States and Canada.

According to Todd Grunberg, vice-president of marketing and business development at Tri-Vision International of Toronto, the v-chip, a programmable censoring device, is being used as a parental block on shows which contain profanity, violence or sexual content.

Grunberg said many parents with children between the ages of three and eight are buying the v-chip so they can control exactly what their children are watching.

"The United States already has regulations that all televisions, no matter what the brand, will have the v-chip inside," Grunberg said. He added although the invention has gotten off to a slow start, it may soon be mandatory in Canada.

"The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Committee is currently preparing for the Canadian launch," Grunberg said. He attributed Canada's delay of adopting the v-chip to the differences in the Canadian and American rating systems. For example, some Canadian channels are not rated and if a Canadian chip owner attempted to block various American programs, channels such as the CBC, Global and the CTV would also be blocked.

According to Martine Vallee, director of discretionary services and social policy at the CRTC, these are some of the exact same problems she has been working on. "Although the rating systems are similar, the main difference between the two rating systems is that the United States designate whether the rating is based on sex, profane language or violence and the Canadian system doesn't distinguish between the three," she said.

"Industry found that [the consumer] didn't want another box on top of the already crowded set. Industry is taking the v-chip right to the manufacturer because [the consumer] wants it inside the unit," Vallee said.

She added Canada already has a rating system on the television screen as well as a code on violence, sex and profanity so these shows are scheduled to air after 9 p.m..

Michael Nolan, a professor in the faculty of information and media studies at Western, said he is in favour of the technology and believes parents should be able to control what their children watch, in what he called this "tabloid-ish" era.

"The v-chip controls programming and in families it's helpful and worthwhile," Nolan said.

Nolan, however, also said over-policing the television set might challenge the basic freedom of choice. "The government should not go too far in that direction."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999