Bottomley ditches censorship by chip

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Political Editor

Virginia Bottomley, the Heritage Secretary, has abandoned plans to legislate in the current Broadcasting Bill for the introduction of V-chips to prevent children from watching violent and sexually explicit television programmes.

The Government has decided for a range of reasons - including probable conflict with current European legislation - that it will not support the amendment to the Bill proposed by the Liberal Democrat MP David Alton.

Mrs Bottomley was said in Whitehall last night to have had support for her approach of not rushing into legislation without careful study of the difficulties by Arthur Pober, senior adviser to the US government on the implementation of V-chip technology. President Bill Clinton has already promised V-chip legislation in the US.

Mrs Bottomley said at a London conference attended by Dr Pober: "Technology is not a panacea. It is something which we must carefully evaluate. The V-chip throws up a number of difficult practical questions... other, perhaps more flexible technological developments may overtake it. The impracticalities of its implementation may outweigh the benefits."

Advice to Mrs Bottomley is that it could cause difficulties with the EU because under current rules it could not be applied to programmes imported from Europe.