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V-Chips, Cable Deregulation Coming Soon to a TV Near You

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A WIDE-RANGING bill that revamps the landscape of communications law is expected to be signed into law by President Clinton as early as next week.

The bill - the most dramatic overhaul of communications law in 60 years - allows cable and local and long-distance companies to cross over into one anothers' businesses, lifts price regulations on millions of cable customers, and restricts smut on TV and computers.

The White House and congressional negotiators reached agreement Wednesday on contentious media ownership provisions, the last hurdle to reconciling separate telecommunications bills passed by each chamber this year.

The bill would gradually deregulate cable companies that were put under government regulation just three years ago.

It would also ban transmission of sexually explicit materials to children over computer networks and give parents a powerful new tool - a computer chip in TV sets allowing them to zap violent, sexually oriented, or other objectionable shows off their screens.

Companies got more freedom to increase their media holdings. But many current prohibitions were kept, including bans on ownership of more than one TV station in a single market.

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