General News

FTC Takes Aim at Industry Marketing

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:50am EST

The U.S. entertainment industry aggressively markets violent films, music and games to children even when they have been labeled for adults only, says an FTC report released today. The Federal Trade Commission report, which didn’t address the causal link between violence and the media, charged that Hollywood’s marketing plans undermined the ratings system credibility used by the entertainment industry to warn parents about violence.

“Target marketing to children of entertainment products with violent content is pervasive and aggressive,” FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky told a news conference.

The FTC report, ordered by President Clinton and congressional leaders after the deadly shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado in April, received immediate responses from the candidates in the presidential race.

Vice President Al Gore began a campaign today for what he called a voluntary “cease-fire” in marketing inappropriate videos, games and music to children. Gore, who appeared today on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said in a statement that they would give the entertainment industry six months to clean up its act or face unspecified “tougher measures” under current advertising laws.

George W. Bush Texas Gov. George W. Bush said he would “work with the CEOs of Hollywood” to limit the amount of violence in the entertainment media. “There’s no question that we need to reduce the violence that our children see and hear,” Bush said.

The Motion Picture Association of America has consistently disputed the affect of violent media on youths, pointing to a drop in crime rates in recent years as evidence. MPAA officials said they would respond to the FTC report in testimony to Congress on Wednesday.

MPAA chief Jack Valenti took issue with the agency's findings. He told today's Wall Street Journal: "The FTC ought to say thank goodness for the movie industry. We don't deserve this kind of savagery from the FTC or any other part of the American government."

Appearing on this morning’s “Today” show, Valenti also took issue with remarks by Matt Lauer, who compared the FTC report’s finding to nicotine (a reference to a study that says the tobacco industry continued to market cigarettes despite the health and addictive risks of nicotine), responding that movies don’t kill.

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