PROPOSES TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS TO ENABLE BLOCKING OF
VIDEO PROGRAMMING BASED ON PROGRAM RATINGS
(ET DOCKET NO. 97-206)
The FCC today began the process that would require that most television
receivers be equipped with features that enable viewers to block the display of
video programming based on program ratings. The Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking adopted by the Commission today responds to the Parental Choice in
Television Programming requirements contained in Sections 551(c),(d), and (e) of
the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In the Telecommunications Act,
Congress determined that parents should be provided with timely information
about the nature of upcoming video programming, and with the technological tools
that would allow them to block violent, sexual, or other programming that they
do not want their children to watch.
In addition, the Commission proposed amending Parts 73, 74 and 76 of its rules
to ensure any ratings information that is provided with video programming is
transmitted to the television receiver intact, without disruption by any
broadcast, cable television, satellite or other video programming distribution
service. The Commission also proposed similar requirements for other services
that can be used to distribute video programming to the home, i.e., Multipoint
Distribution Service and Direct Broadcast Satellite Service. Comments are
The 1996 Act mandates that the FCC shall: 1) require new television receivers
that have a picture screen 13 inches or greater include a feature to enable
viewers to block the display of all programs with a common rating; 2) provide
oversight for the adoption of industry standards for blocking technology; and,
3) take appropriate action to ensure that blocking services continue to be
available to consumers as technology advances.
The Commission proposed that television manufacturers be required to provide
blocking technology on at least half of their product models with a picture
screen 33cm (13 inches) or greater in size by July 1, 1998. The remainder
of the models would be required to contain blocking technology by July 1, 1999.
Action by the Commission September 25, 1997, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(FCC 97-340). Chairman Hundt, Commissioners Quello, Ness and Chong.