CTA created the standard for the V-chip, which can block individual channels or programs depending on content. This technology allows parents the ability to determine what is appropriate for their children to see and hear on TV. With CTA's standard as a roadmap, manufacturers began to build V-chips into their sets. Congress later required the chip be included in every TV built after January 1, 2000. 

In conjunction with rising concerns over indecent television programming, CTA again is taking a leadership role, working in partnership with the content, cable and broadcast industries in a voluntary agreement to educate parents about the V-chip CTA believes that it is our obligation as an industry to ensure that parents are aware of the tools they have to protect their children from offensive content. This broad industry partnership has resulted in a PSA campaign and educational website, www.thetvboss.org, both developed by the Ad Council. 

The V-chip is a technology that lets parents block television programming they don't want their children to watch. Most television shows now include a rating, as established by the broadcasting industry. This rating is encoded into the programs, and the V-chip technology reads the encoded information and blocks shows accordingly. Using the remote control, parents can program the V-chip to block certain shows based on their ratings. If you lose your remote or need help programming the V-chip, contact the manufacturer of your television for a replacement or operating instructions. 

How to Use the V-Chip 
Programming instructions can be found in the television's on-screen menu options or the written instruction guide included in the owner's manual. 

Some general tips to be mindful of when programming the V-Chip: 

  • The V-Chip will not operate unless the option is activated. Then, a display of the ratings menu will appear. One or more ratings can be chosen to block. 
  • All V-Chip TV sets require a personal identification number. This number-- called a parental lock code-- will act as the password allowing access to change settings, activate and de-activate the V-Chip. 
  • Once the parental lock code number is entered, select the ratings to block and then activate the V-Chip. The information is stored in the TV's "memory" and the V-Chip will continue to block programs with the selected ratings even when the television is turned off and back on. 
  • In addition to blocking based on ratings, many TV sets allow parents to block programs based on date, time or channel. For example, programming airing after 10 p.m., or on a particular channel can be blocked. Check the television's written instructions for further details. 

    TV Ratings System 
    The ratings system, also known the TV Parental Guidelines, was established by the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable Television Association and the Motion Picture Association of America. These ratings are displayed on the television screen for the first 15 seconds of rated programming and, in conjunction with the V-Chip, permit parents to block programming with a certain rating from coming into their home. The TV Ratings system has been in place since 1997. It was designed to give parents more information about the content and age-appropriateness of TV shows. 

    TV Ratings Categories and Descriptions

    TV-Y All Children
    This program is designed to be appropriate for all children. Whether animated or live-action, the themes and elements in this program are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children from ages 2-6. This program is not expected to frighten younger children. 

    TV-Y7 Directed to Older Children 
    This program is designed for children age 7 and above. It may be more appropriate for children who have acquired the developmental skills needed to distinguish between make-believe and reality. Themes and elements in this program may include mild fantasy or comedic violence, or may frighten children under the age of 7. Therefore, parents may wish to consider the suitability of this program for their very young children. 

    TV-Y7-FV Directed to Older Children-Fantasy Violence 
    For those programs where fantasy violence may be more intense or more combative than other programs in the TV-Y7 category, such programs will be designated TV-Y7-FV. 

    TV-G General Audience 
    Most parents would find this program appropriate for all ages. Although this rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It contains little or no violence, no strong language and little or no sexual dialogue or situations. 

    TV-PG Parental Guidance Suggested 
    This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program contains one or more of the following: moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), or some suggestive dialogue (D). 

    TV-14 Parents Strongly Cautioned 
    This program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watch unattended. This program contains one or more of the following: intense violence (V), intense sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L), or intensely suggestive dialogue (D). 

    TV-MA Mature Audience Only 
    This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program contains one or more of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude indecent language (L).