In the mid 1990s the broadcasting industry created a voluntary ratings system intended to accompany all television programming. This ratings system is known as "TV Parental Guidelines." A monitoring board exists to ensure that ratings guidelines are applied accurately and consistently accross the television programming spectrum.
Rating labels appear in the corner of your television screen during the first 15 seconds of each television program. They are also included in the online TV listings pages of A&E, The History Channel, The Biography Channel, and History International as well as the television listings of many newspapers. The labels were created to help parents determine which programs provide suitable viewing for their children. Each label corresponds to the degree, if any, of the following content contained in the designated program: Violence (V), Sex (S), coarse Language (L), sexual Dialogue (D).
Ratings are assigned to all television programming on The History Channel. Below is detailed information regarding the different ratings levels.
UNDERSTANDING THE TV RATINGS
|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.|
|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 violence 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.|
|Directed to Older Children - Fantasy Violence|
|For those programs where fantasy violence may be more intense or more combative than other programs in this category, such programs will be designated TV-Y7-FV.|
|Most parents would find this program suitable 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.|
|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).|
|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).|
|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 follwing: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude indecent language (L).|
The V-chip is a technology that lets parents block television programming they don't want their children to watch. The V-Chip electronically reads television-programming ratings and allows parents to block programs they believe are unsuitable for their children. (Ratings appear in the corner of your television screen during the first 15 seconds of a program and in TV programming guides). This rating is encoded into the program, 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.
CABLE (LOCKBOX) AND SET-TOP BOXES
Cable subscribers may request a "lockbox" from cable operators to prevent viewing of any channel on which objectionable programming may appear. Cable operators are required to make lockboxes available for sale or lease to customers who request them. Lockboxes can also be purchased from other commercial distributors.
The Communications Act includes a provision that is designed to increase control over the programming coming into a subscriber's home. Section 640 requires a cable operator to fully scramble or block the audio and video portions of programming services not specifically subscribed to by a household. The cable operator must fully scramble or block the programming in question upon the request of the subscriber and at no charge to the subscriber.
Some cable analog and advanced analog set-top boxes have the ability to block channels of programming. To block the channel, the viewer enters the correct Personal Identification Number ("PIN") code using the set-top's remote control or keypad.
Digital set-top boxes provided by cable operators have parental control capabilities that allow customers to block programming based on several criteria. While not all boxes have the same features, a digital box might allow viewers to block programming based on time and date, channel, program title, TV rating and/or motion picture rating.