Originally created 09/12/99

Public service ads to explain v-chip technology



WASHINGTON -- With at least half of all new television sets equipped with v-chips, new public service announcements starring Kermit the Frog are trying to get over one of the biggest challenges of the technology: Parents don't know how to use the v-chips.

The service announcements being developed by Odyssey, a Hallmark & Henson network, and The Jim Henson Co., will feature Kermit explaining the v-chip's purpose, its practical applications and the rating system that works with the device.

The public service announcements, to be completed in a few months, will be made available to system operators that carry Odyssey to 29 million subscribers. Others would be able to use the spots as well. Radio spots and education materials featuring Kermit are also in the works.

Regulators welcomed the effort from the industry to get the word out.

"Parents need to have information on how to use the v-chip to protect their kids from violent or sexually explicit programming," said Federal Communications Commission Chairman Bill Kennard.

V-chips work with an electronically coded ratings system to allows parents to block objectionable programming from their children. A 1996 telecommunications law requires all new TV sets 13 inches and larger to come with the technology by 2000.