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UFPEL 2008


In many countries around the world, governments __________ television broadcasting. Government officials preside over the industry and control what will be shown to the public. In other countries, this industry  __________ freely and independently. Television stations can __________ whatever they want without government interference. For many people, this lack of government interference in the media symbolizes an important freedom: freedom of speech. The V-chip/ratings system __________ important questions related to this freedom. Parents, children, the broadcasting industry, and free-speech groups all have different opinions.

Parents, disgusted with television programming, complain that too many shows are trashy and offensive, rather than wholesome and educational. Many feel that a V-chip/ratings system will protect their children from viewing inappropriate programs. Moreover, they are pleased that the government has finally forced the television industry to clean up the airwaves. Many parents do not think that the notion of a government controlled television ratings system is censorship. They mistrust the industry's ability to regulate itself. To them, 1it is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. So parents are hopeful. A parent of one child said, "Boy, I hope the new system will take here as well as it did in Canada."

However, not everyone sees the ratings system as a panacea, a cure-all for the whole problem of TV violence. Teenagers in particular view the blocked-out shows as forbidden-fruit. The fact that they can't watch a particular show invariably makes them want to watch it even more.

Broadcasters feel that the V-chip/ratings systems is only a quick technological fix. They worry that parents who use the V-chip will block out prime-time shows, profitable evening programs which serve as their bread-and-butter programming. Moreover, broadcasters don't trust the public to use the system. Even though parents say they want less sex and violence on TV, shows containing such scenes are often the most popular. Broadcasters think the public is hypocritical and doubt that any electronic blocking device or ratings system will actually be used.

Supporters of freedom of speech, or First Amendment rights, are the loudest protesters against the V chip/ratings system. They can't swallow the idea of blocking out certain programs. For them, this system falls under the category of censorship. In the Telecommunications Act, the government ordered the television industry to establish a ratings system. The law also ordered television manufacturers to install blocking devices in all new sets. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission), a government agency, is responsible for approving the implementation of the V-chip/ratings system. It can reject the broadcasters' ratings system and set up its own. Free speech supporters feel that the government has ultimate power and control over what is shown on television. Therefore, they see this power as full-fledged censorship.

NORTH STAR ADVANCED (Second edition) - Francis Boyd and Carol Numrich - Longman Press.

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