Viewers in every home with a current TV set can block programming with that hardly used V-chip technology. But they can't just block advertising.
The Federal Communications Commission wants to institute ratings for inappropriate commercials -- just as it does for TV programming -- with the ultimate intent of letting viewers block TV commercials overall using the V-chip.
All this may seem a bit redundant, especially to the third of the country that has DVRs and can fast-forward through programming and commercials.
Still the DVR tool isn't necessarily just for "inappropriate" content, it's for what consumers feel is "unnecessary" content -- commercials.
The FCC is considering commercial ratings because of children's viewing trends: some kids can watch up to 11 hours a day of programming and all the commercials that come with it.
Future research would benefit by showing how kids use DVR remotes. How young are the children who use DVRs, and to what extent are they fast-forwarding through commercials and/or programming?
This might key a real cue as to what -- if anything -- should be done with rating or blocking TV commercials.
What commercials? Forget about the obvious food marketing messages. Right now, maybe some parents would want to block Super Bowl commercials with stupid animal tricks or those supposedly comic ads where men get hurt in their private parts.
The Association of National Advertisers believes all hell will break loose if commercials are rated. According to Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of government relations for the ANA, "If you independently rate advertising, it will dry up the income stream because advertisers won't advertise where people aren't watching the ads."
Advertisers have had enough problems with DVRs and fast-forwarding. Now they see the other two-thirds of the TV viewing public -- those without DVRs -- giving marketers a somewhat shockingly immediate picture of what a full-scale DVR world might be like.
A disruptive TV/marketing picture will turn the business upside down. Just like the massive correction to everyone's 401K, everyone is feeling lots of pain. Let's take our lumps now -- and get on with it.