It’s been six months since the United States required a Canadian invention to be installed in most television sets. And its success hasn’t been as widespread as many would like. In Canada, the Action Group on Violence on Television has filed a proposed timetable with the CRTC to begin encoding their programming to work with V-chip equipped sets. The commission is expected to announce its response within the next few weeks. One of the V-chip’s main proponents at the Federal Communications Commission is quick to defend the public’s slow embrace of this technology. Speaking to delegates at the 5th Annual Conference on Children & Media in Washington on June 26, commissioner Gloria Tristani says what the V-chip lacks is public education, and marketing. Below is an edited transcript of her speech. A little over a year ago, FCC chairman William Kennard asked me to head the FCC V-chip Task Force. At the time, the ratings system and technical standards for V-chip deployment had been set – but the system was far from ready to go. There weren’t many TV sets on the market equipped with V-chips. Very few programmers were actually encoding the ratings on the Vertical Blanking Interval. And not many parents were aware of the V-chip and how it could be used to protect their children. I’m pleased to report that the first two problems have been resolved. The TV set manufacturers met the deadlines for roll out of V-chip sets. As of last January, every new set with a screen 13 inches or greater is now equipped with a V-chip. And virtually all of the major broadcast and cable networks, and all of the major syndicators, are encoding and transmitting the ratings. Despite the V-chip’s availability, too many parents still do not know what the V-chip is. A recent Kaiser survey found that 39 per cent of parents have never even heard of the V-chip, despite another study’s conclusion that 77 per cent of Americans said they would use V-chip technology if available. Obviously, there is unfinished business. We need to keep working hard to educate parents. Companies would not put a new product into the marketplace without a solid marketing effort to support it. We need to do the same for the V-chip. I can’t tell you how many people – especially members of the media – are eager to throw dirt on the V-chip. Nearly every week I get a call from some reporter asking, "Isn’t the V-chip a failure" or "Why aren’t parents swarming into stores to demand V-chip sets"? Only six months after the V-chip became standard equipment, the naysayers claim it’s DOA. Think about it. How many people rush out to get more advanced cellular phones while the old one still works? How many families still utilize VCRs despite availability of DVD players? It is irresponsible to declare victory or defeat after six months. These things take time. The evidence of the use of the V-chip so far is actually positive. A Kaiser study found that, of the parents who have a V-chip set in their homes, one-third are using the V-chip to help guide their children’s viewing. When the V-chip was first debated, there were many who argued that it amounted to government censorship. That’s another sham argument – the V-chip empowers parents, not government, to decide what material can be shown in their homes. If the V-chip is censorship, then so is a parent who uses a remote control to turn off the set if they don’t like what their children are watching. The V-chip is a powerful tool that responds to the modern reality that parents can’t always be home to monitor what their children are watching. And the V-chip can help protect children from harmful programming where the commission’s rules are failing. That our children represent the future is a cliché – a cliché but true. As a public official, I would like to protect them by law and regulation. But if law and regulation fail our children, what is my choice? As a citizen and a mother, I can protect my young child by using the V-chip, turning off the TV, or by not buying goods or services from advertisers who sponsor and thereby support violent programming. I can only hope others do so as well.