Congress Seeks Advanced Parental Controls for TV -- Parents Flood FCC with Requests for Foul Language Filtering Technology

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After Years of Trying, Company Gives Up On Cable and Satellite Industry Cooperation; Turns to Washington to Help Families. The mandatory DTV transition will force this technology into obsolescence unless it's built into cable and satellite boxes.

We are offering this service to the cable and satellite companies for free

Is foul language filtering the next parental control for TV? An FCC request for comments on new advanced parental controls prompted nearly 10,000 comments specifically requesting the foul language filtering technology from TVGuardian. This advanced technology had been offered for free to leading cable and satellite providers but was rejected, leading the company to now turn to Washington.

"Studies show more people are bothered by foul language on TV than by sex, nudity, violence or depictions of drug use," said Britt Bennett, President of TVGuardian LLC. "So here we have one of the biggest problems on TV…and a tool to fix that…yet the media industry won't help offer that tool to parents--even if we offer it to them for free! So we're glad Congress and the FCC are finally looking into helping families have access to this."

The FCC's Notice of Inquiry came after Congress, through the Child Safe Viewing Act, directed the FCC to look for "advanced blocking technologies," including those that "can filter language based upon information in closed captioning." TVGuardian is the only patented technology allowing viewers to automatically filter out offensive words on TV and replace them with more appropriate substitutes.

"When it comes to parental controls, viewers want more than just locking and blocking," explained Bennett. "Parents want to be able to watch TV programs and movies; they just want to be able to do so without subjecting their children to offensive and inappropriate language. Seventy percent are bothered by it. They want to be able to protect the innocence of their children. Who could argue with that?"

The TVGuardian technology has been licensed into over 12 million DVD players but has had a harder time making inroads in cable and satellite.

How would TVGuardian fare on pay-TV? Bennett says cable and satellite providers could implement the technology without significant challenges: "TVGuardian is a ready-to-go software solution that uses the existing close captioning required by law. Cable and Satellite companies could quickly download the software into boxes already in homes."

As for the impact on revenues, an independent study commissioned by TVGuardian revealed that, given the choice to watch TV without obscene language, pay-TV viewers would ultimately spend more on premium channels and pay-per-view programming. According to the survey, those who are offended by foul language on TV would be 50% more likely to subscribe to premium channels, and 40% more likely to purchase pay-per-view programming.    

"We've offered it to the cable and satellite leaders over and over again. We've shown them how more choices for parents means more income for them. Yet each time they've turned us down," said Bennett. "Now we're cooperating with Washington to help bring those choices to parents. Congress is seeking the next generation of parental controls and we believe we have a reasonable plan to offer."

In their comments filed before the FCC, TVGuardian LLC outlined an offer that would make foul language filtering available for parents…with neither the media industry nor government ultimately having to pay for it.

"We are offering this service to the cable and satellite companies for free," said Bennett. "They can offer it as a pay service to their customers and we'll share in the revenues, costing them nothing in the end and actually helping them earn more money. They can help parents and increase revenues at the same time. Without the industry's cooperation, this technology will soon be forced into obsolescence with the upcoming switch to DTV."

With the cooperation of groups like the Parents Television Council and American Family Association, the company has gathered nearly 50,000 testimonials from customers who are pleased to finally have control over the words they hear on television. Tens of thousands more have written directly to their cable or satellite providers, asking that the TVGuardian service be offered.

The full report of TVGuardian's comments to the FCC can be found at http://www.tvguardian.com

About TVGuardian, LLC
TVGuardian LLC (http://www.tvguardian.com) offers families more viewing options with a technology to automatically filter out offensive language from all forms of TV entertainment. Viewers may choose for themselves to set the technology at levels of Strict, Moderate, Tolerant, or Off. Offensive phrases are then automatically muted and suitable replacements displayed via closed captioning. After selling 400,000 hardware devices, the technology was built in to over 12 million DVD players. Now the company is seeking to give all parents the option of filtering out foul language on TV by becoming a built-in feature within pay-TV and a wider range of consumer electronics.

TVGuardian was established in 1997 and is based in Rogers, Arkansas.

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