TV chiefs agree to curb sex and violence

After years of resistance, the American television industry pledged yesterday to develop a ratings system for the violent and sexual content of programmes that will work in conjunction with computer chips fitted to television sets.

The announcement came as some 30 of the industry's top executives, including Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner of CNN, arrived in Washington on a chartered bus for meetings with members of the US Congress and a "television summit" with President Bill Clinton and the First Lady, Hillary Clinton.

"Arguably you are the most powerful cultural force in the world, but we know too that freedom and opportunity can truly thrive in a free society that is also a responsible society," Mr Clinton said.

In a joint statement, the industry's leaders said that details of the rating system would be worked out over the coming months and it would be introduced by the beginning of 1997. Programmes will be rated much in the way that the feature films are for the cinema.

The industry has been forced to act after a sweeping telecommunications bill was passed by the US Congress last month. The bill served notice to television executives that unless they moved swiftly to adopt a voluntary system of ratings, it would be forced on them.

The bill also included provisions obliging manufacturers to install so- called "V-chips" - violence chips - in all new television sets sold in the US. A television with the "V-chip" will allow parents to block programmes rated for sexual or violent content. Information on how each individual programme is rated will be included in the broadcaster's signal.

"Our objective is clear and firm," the industry statement said. "This enterprise is totally voluntary. There will be no government involvement." Only a few months ago the television community had been vigorously opposing any kind of ratings.

Agreeing on categories of ratings and their application is certain to be difficult. Broadcasters will be wary, for example, of imposing the same criteria for violent content on dramas, such as the hospital series ER, as for children's programmes like Power Rangers.

Nor is there any consensus on whether news magazines and soap operas should be affected. News bulletins, even though many include graphic footage, would probably escape.

Civil liberty groups fear the introduction of ratings could add up to censorship and the erosion of free-expression rights under the US constitution's First Amendment. But Al Gore, the Vice-President, said yesterday that the plan raised "no First Amendment questions whatsoever".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions