How To Prevent Viewing Objectional Programming
Generally, cable television operators have the right to determine the channels that are available on their cable systems. To maximize the number of subscribers, the cable operator selects channels that are likely to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers. Because of this, a cable subscriber may receive programs as part of a programming package that he or she does not wish to view.
The cable operator, in general, is not responsible for the programming that is shown on a particular channel and does not have the right to prevent the transmission of programming that may contain objectionable content. However, individual subscribers have various tools available that may be used to prevent the viewing of programs or channels. For example, the subscriber may employ a lockbox and/or the V-chip.
A “lockbox” is a device that a subscriber may lease or purchase from the cable company or from a retail store. By using a lockbox, a cable subscriber can literally lock specific channels so that the programming cannot be viewed.
Federal law now requires that most programming available on television is rated to alert viewers if the program contains violence, inappropriate language, or other material that a viewer may find offensive. A V-chip is the circuitry in a television that is capable of identifying these ratings and blocking the programming that an individual finds inappropriate. All 13-inch or larger screen televisions that are manufactured or imported for use in the United States are required by law to be equipped with the V-chip. Television manufacturers were required to include the V-chip on at least 50% of their products after July 1, 1999 and on the remaining 50% by January 1, 2000. If you have an older model television, you may purchase a V-chip and attach it to the television. Depending on its technical specifications, the V-chip may be used to block individual programs or it may be used to block one or more channels entirely.
Where to Go For Additional Information and Assistance
For more information on Section 504 and other issues, you may contact the FCC toll free at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY. You may also obtain information on numerous telecommunications-related topics of interest to consumers at www.fcc.gov/cgb.