Media Groups Plan Education Effort

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Major media organizations are planning to announce next week the launch of a massive awareness campaign designed to alert parents about readily available technologies that can block TV programming they consider inappropriate for their children, industry sources said Thursday.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the campaign -- which will highlight the V-chip in television sets, as well as set-top boxes for cable -- will be spearheaded by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Consumer Electronics Association. Some of the major broadcast-TV networks are expected to participate, as well.

Sources described the initiative as large and significant -- in dollar terms probably going well beyond the NCTA's own $250 million public-service campaign, announced last May, which included improved TV-ratings information, dozen of free workshops and promotion of digital set-tops for easy channel blocking.

The sources, however, did not provide a specific dollar amount for the overall campaign.

The educational program is the TV industry's latest attempt to address indecent-content concerns raised by key Capitol Hill lawmakers and Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin.

In the past month, Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. have rolled out new family-programming tiers largely restricted to G-rated content. The cable companies did so mainly in response to political pressure from Washington.

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