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F Television Censorship by Ben Flick Access is threatened today by the government by putting a brown paper bag around risqu material on the Internet and television Industry responding both to government pressure and consumer demand has compounded the problem by creating easy tools for censorship Government is privatizing censorship pushing it out Recently there have been efforts to make television and the Internet family friendly by giving parents tools to create kid-safe environments But the consequences may be far-reaching as the tools used in the home to shield children from certain ideas and images increasingly appear in schools and libraries where they limit the ability of the entire community to gain access to valuable information The promise of the electronic media - to create a more vibrant and democratic marketplace of ideas than has ever before been possible - could be undermined if rating and filtering is widely embraced By directing a bright light at these censorship tools we may persuade viewers and users to resort not to ratings and filters but to open and unfettered access to information and freedom of expression to demand more speech not enforced silence The Telecommunications Act creates a statutory scheme to regulate content of television programming It mandates that new television sets be equipped with a V-chip capable of blocking programs and it requires to prescribe guidelines to identify programming containing sexual violent or other indecent material to help parents limit childrens viewing - unless the televisioncable industry voluntarily devises its own acceptable rules for labeling programs The terms violent sexual or indecent are not defined in the Act In July 1997 the major networks with the exception of NBC agreed to begin using TV Parental Guidelines a television rating system to supplement the previously introduced movie-style age-based rating TV-G general audiences TV-PG parental guidance suggested TV-Y7 and TV-14 programs unsuitable for children under 7 and 14 respectively and TV-MA mature audiences only The
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