In 1991 when Tim Collings first thought of the idea for an optional device that blocked violent television programs, he never could have imagined the controversy that would erupt. Democratic Congressman Ed Markey from Massachusetts came up with the idea that the V-Chip should become a required feature of the television. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. The law required that all televisions by the year 2000 would be required to include the V-Chip. The networks were told that they must voluntarily come up with a rating system for all television programs by 1997 or the government would establish one for them.
The television industry claims that the chip will violate their First Amendment right and cause them to lose valuable commercial dollars. The First Amendment gives everyone the right to freedom of speech. Broadcasters believe some shows will be forced off the air because they are seem too violent. The networks do not think that anyone should tell them what is too violent. Networks feel that people do not have to watch shows they feel are too violent. By forcing the networks to create a rating system for TV programs with violent content or objectionable material, the networks will no longer have the right to freedom of speech. The networks are also afraid that they will lose millions of dollars because the people that make the commercials will be afraid to buy commercial space on the television for programs that are considered to be "objectionable".
Some lawyers, like those from the American Civil Liberties Union, are opposed to the V-Chip law. In short, the ACLU claims that:
Many parents are happy to have the V-Chip because it will help them to have control over what their children are watching when they are not able to be at home. Even if parents are at home they can not always be watching what their kids are doing and the V-Chip provides the necessary help. There are some parents that do not like the V-Chip because they too think it is against the First Amendment and is unnecessary. They say that parents should be involved with their kids while they watch television and not use it as a babysitter.
Kids are probably the most upset. They feel that they will be able to watch only a few television shows, now that the V-Chip is around. Kids have asked such questions as, "Will shows like Roadrunner be zapped because the rating will be TV-14?" "What about Batman?" Kids are mad because they feel that this law says that all kids do is watch violent TV. They feel that the government is saying that kids are not to be trusted, so we have to have the V-Chip to control them. Kids think they are being discriminated against because of the minority of those who do watch violent TV and act on it.
The fight over the V-Chip still continues today and it is my opinion that the debate will continue to cause protest by the public until people understand the importance of the V-Chip. You can add your opinions and comments about the V-Chip by going to our message board or why not try writing your congressperson about how you feel. Good luck, let you opinions be heard and go to the Lounge to find out what you can do.
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