WASHINGTON (AP) - Vice President Al Gore was in the White House on Tuesday watching "Sesame Street." He changed the channel and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" appeared. All of a sudden, the screen went blank.
Gore was demonstrating the new "v-chip" technology, which is designed to give parents the chance to block programs they find objectionable.
"It really is a huge help to parents who may be at work and are concerned about their children seeing something like `Texas Chainsaw Massacre,"' the vice president said.
The Federal Communications Commission, carrying out the wishes of Congress and the Clinton administration, has begun setting technical standards for equipping sets with v-chips.
A 1996 telecommunications law requires that TV sets sold in the United States with screens 13 inches and larger must eventually have the technology built in.
The v-chip will work with TV ratings for sex, violence and language aired on broadcast and cable programs. New, detailed ratings begin Wednesday on ABC, CBS, Fox and major cable networks. NBC will continue using the less-specific ratings now on the air.
The FCC has proposed that the v-chip be designed to accommodate multiple TV ratings systems.
Under the agency's proposal, TV set-makers would need to have the blocking technology in at least half the sets sold in the United States by next July 1 and have the rest equipped by July 1, 1999.
Gore said the v-chip gives parents a third option besides "throwing out your TV" or monitoring every show children watch.
Betty Sheperd, of Columbia, Md., told the vice president she would get to sleep in on Saturday mornings now, instead of having to monitor what her two children were watching.
"There'll be a lot of blank stations on the TV," said her 16-year-old daughter, Keisha.