ABSTRACT

In the 1996 Communications Decency Act, Congress mandated that all television sets manufactured or distributed in the United States after February 1998 contain "a feature designed to enable viewers to block display of all programs with a common rating"-that is, to have a so-called V -chip. I A chip enabling viewers "to block display of all programs with a common rating" is, of course, meaningless without someone to sit down and actually rate programming. Who will rate, how, and with what effect, have thus become critical issues for television producers and artists, for parents, children and teenagers, and for others who may rely upon the ratings. This article poses three questions worth pondering as the United States for the first time embarks upon a massive program of evaluating, labeling, and blocking hundreds of thousands of broadcast and cable television productions.