* Contrary to the pre-election year rhetoric of Republican and Democratic leaders, the v-chip technology currently being touted as a tool to protect children from the dangers of television may very well result in de facto censorship.
If pending congressional legislation becomes law, the v-chip will be able to block out any programming deemed "objectionable" according to the guidelines of a yet-to-be-determined ratings system.
Unfortunately, television advertisers have a long history of fleeing from controversial programming. Accordingly, they will be disinclined to sponsor programs branded with a "blockable" rating, particularly when such a rating means a smaller number of potential viewers. The result may be a chilling effect on the production and broadcast of all potentially "objectionable" material.
Some may consider that no great loss. However, one wonders how quality television programming such as "Roots" (which contained both nudity and violence) would have fared in a v-chip era.
At best, the miniseries would have been blocked out of millions of households across the nation. At worst, it never would have been made in the first place.
* How ridiculous it is to think that a microchip which censors TV programs is going to change the moral fiber of this country. Politicians of both sides should realize that they can't legislate morality, they can only legislate to ensure freedom of speech and freedom from censorship. That concept allows both pornographers and Bible-thumpers the ability to freely express their respective views, free from government interference.
* Re "The V-Chip and Big Brother," editorial, July 13: As "Big Brother" in the headline indicates, there is always a concern about too much government intervention--especially when the broadcasting industry is concerned.
But left to their own free-market standards of what is acceptable and accessible programming for children, consider how many shows on TV today are more "hard-core" than R-rated movies. And the trend will get worse as technology combines TV, the Internet and the phone system into one gigantic information feeding tube. Our children will soon be subjected to even more raw, uncensored programming. Only now it will all be at a single concentrated source.
The filtering power of the v-chip is certainly a step in the right direction, but to make the technology effective we need more legislation to regulate the ratings system for broadcasting and programming instead of leaving it as a voluntary system. That is what got us into trouble in the first place.
* President Clinton's endorsement of a device to block adult TV programs makes me wonder if he's tuned in lately (July 11). Seems to me that the networks and cable companies are already doing a spectacular job of airing nothing that would appeal to anyone over the age of 9.
CHRIS R. WESTPHAL