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Getting the word out on the V-chip

The Advertising Council, the nation’s top producer of public service announcements, announced Tuesday it is working with the four major television broadcasters, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, to educate parents about the V-chip -- the little-used system within all new television sets that can block programming inappropriate for children.

Peggy Conlon, president and chief executive of the Ad Council, says the partnership will help “bridge the tremendous information gap” regarding the circuitry contained in all television sets over 13 inches manufactured since 2000.

Ad Council studies from two weeks ago show fewer than 10% of all parents use the V-chip and 80% don’t even realize their sets have one.

(Parents whose TVs are without V-chips can also block certain shows by contacting their cable companies.)

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The move comes on the heels of a crackdown on indecent programming by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission, which has asked broadcasters to make voluntary efforts to solve the problems.

Today, the National Assn. of Broadcasters is hosting a summit on responsible programming in Washington, D.C.

Unlike sporadic educational efforts of the past, the new announcements will refer viewers to a link on each network’s website that will provide detailed information and tutorials, Conlon says. Drop-down boxes will feature manufacturer instructions on how to use the V-chip .

While Fox has already begun an educational campaign, it will join the group effort. ABC will air its ads late this week; the others are still developing their ads, Conlon says. Benchmark studies will be conducted at the beginning and end of the campaigns to assess their effectiveness, Conlon says.

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