Mr. David Moulton
February 8, 1996, President Clinton and Vice President Gore present Representative Markey
with the electronic pen used to sign the Telecommunications
Act of 1996. We interviewed Rep. Markey's Chief of Staff, Mr. David Moulton (far
right). The two men were instrumental in drafting and passing the V-Chip bill.
How did Representative
Markey become so interested in the idea of creating a V-Chip law?
When Mr. Markey was a Representative in Massachusetts in 1975, he
saw a program on television which showed young children throwing gasoline on a homeless
person, setting him on fire, and killing him. The next morning three children repeated the
same event they had watched on television the night before killing more people in the
process. Representative Markey went on T.V and stated that it is up to the broadcasters to
stop television violence.
The V-Chip became
part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Would you explain the difference between
the Telecommunications Act and a bill?
Each act begins as a bill. Then the bill passes to the House
of Representatives and next to the Senate. If it passes the Senate, its last stop is
to the President. If the President signs the bill it becomes an act.
How long did it take
Representative Markey to draft the V- Chip bill?
Representative Markey introduced the v-chip bill in 1993 and it
didnt become a bill until 1996.
Was Markey surprised
by the huge controversy that the V-Chip caused?
He was pleased that he was able to get the majority of both
Republicans and the Democrats to agree.
What was the reaction
of Congress to the V-Chip bill?
There are 345 people in Congress. The bill allowed both
Republicans and Democrats to support the bill. Those in favor of the V-Chip had to fight
against other members who took the viewpoint of the television broadcasters. More
Republicans than Democrats voted for the V-Chip bill, although it was a very close vote.
The bill passed, but only by seven or eight votes.
Representative Markey think about the fact that the ACLU
(American Civil Liberties Union) is against the idea of the V-Chip becoming a law?
The ACLU is wrong. They are saying that the bill interferes
with freedom of speech. The government asked television broadcasters to make up their
minds about a rating system for shows. The fact that the broadcasters were involved
promotes the idea of the First Amendment.
What is the status of
the V-Chip bill now?
Around 75% of Democrats and Republicans now believe the bill is a
great idea. We expect that by June of the year 2000, 100% will be in favor of the bill.
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