In a bid to gain marketing advantage - and help parents control what their children watch on TV - TiVo announced Thursday a new service, KidZone, that enables parents to designate 'suitability' ratings issued by one of two groups - Common Sense Media or the Parents Television Council.

Although there is nothing new about such controls (built into cable and satellite set-top boxes, they have been in existence for over a decade) TiVo believes they are little used by parents because both the software and the rating designations are too difficult to understand.

According to TiVo ceo Tom Rogers: "Ratings have had a marginal effect because parents don't fully understand how to use them. Nor do they bring forward what they want their kids to watch."

KidZone will permit children to watch only programs the designated group deems appropriate for the age range specified by parents. In addition, the latter can program TiVo to record content recommended by the groups as 'especially worthwhile'.

If they wish, parents can overrule the groups' choices or draw-up their own list of approved and banned programs. Via a password, they can view programs denied to their children.

As from June KidZone software will be available without additional charge to the 1.4 million users of TiVo's standalone set-top boxes.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff