Clinton Backs Parental-Control TV Chip to Block Sex and Violence
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ President Clinton embraced mandatory ratings for TV programs and legislation to put parental-control chips in new sets Monday as a ``technological fix″ for broadcast sex and violence.
``I think it’s a big deal,″ he told a family-values conference in the latest political volley on the emotionally charged subject.
In another television issue, Clinton promised to resist GOP efforts to cut funding for public broadcasting. ``In our family, this is known as the `leave Big Bird alone’ campaign,″ he said.
Seeking middle ground on a hot presidential campaign issue, Clinton voiced only muted criticism of objectionable material from the entertainment industry, suggesting there were limits to what could be done directly given First Amendment protections. ``We’re going to have to have some voluntary initiatives,″ he said.
He said the ``V-chip″ legislation may be the easiest way for parents to shield their children from violent or otherwise objectionable shows.
``This is not censorship, this is parental responsibility,″ he said.
He endorsed a Senate-passed measure under which TV sets would be required to have a built-in electronic device that could block programs electronically labeled as violent or otherwise objectionable.
The cable and broadcast television industries would have to rate their programs. The rating would be encoded along with the show’s signal.
Using a remote control device, parents could program the TV set not to display individual shows. They also could block entire channels or programs by time slots.
The cable, broadcast and TV-set manufacturing industries are all opposed to plan, saying the government should not make such decisions.
Clinton was not nearly as harsh in criticizing the industry as Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, the front-running Republican presidential candidate, who recently accused Hollywood of offering ``nightmares of depravity.″
Clinton said that he felt violence has a place in some movies. And he praised rap music as an approachable form of folk entertainment, although he said it had ``been used in ways I think are bad.″
``Most of us believe there’s too much indiscriminate violence, too much indiscriminate sex, too much callous degradation of women and sometimes of other people in various parts of our media today,″ Clinton told the conference, an annual one on family values sponsored by Vice President Al Gore, said,
But, he added, ``I believe the question is: So what? What we ought to be talking about today is, `What are we going to be doing about that?‴
He called the V-chip plan an ``affirmative step″ to deal with objectionable programs without harming anyone’s constitutional rights, a ``technological fix now being debated in Congress which I think is very important.″
The proposal was not embraced by all forum participants.
Sheila Peters, a Nashville community activist, said Hollywood has to produce better shows: ``The V-chip is not the answer.″
Clinton underscored his differences with Republicans on funds for public broadcasting. He said the average American pays $1.09 a year in taxes for public television and the money is matched five or six times over by private contributions. Sixty percent of those who watch public television ``have family incomes below $40,000,″ he said.
Actor Tom Selleck told the conference the entertainment industry should do a better job policing itself. ``We all too often in Hollywood circle the wagons and holler censorship when confronted with criticism,″ he said.
Jack Valenti, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, said there are many ``tawdry and profane″ movies and programs but that in addressing free speech ``the founding fathers invested this country with the least ambiguous phrase in the Constitution.″
Clinton’s first stop was the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he visited Gore’s mother, Pauline, who suffered a heart attack and stroke last week. Clinton brought her carrot-ginger soup made by the White House chef.