FTC Re-Examines Marketing Violence to Kids

The report, a follow-up to a study of the entertainment industry’s marketing practices last fall, gave motion picture and video game companies high marks for their efforts to stop advertising violent or overtly sexual products to kids, but says the music industry continues to promote such material on programs aimed at teens.

“The music recording industry, unlike the motion picture and electronic game industries, has not visibly responded to the Commission’s report, nor has it implemented the reforms its trade association announced just before the report was issued,” the report said.

FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky said he was disappointed in the music industry for “its failure to institute positive reforms to its self-regulatory structure.”

The report found all five major recording companies continue to advertise albums with the industry’s self-imposed parental advisory labels in magazines and on television programs “with substantial under-17 audiences.” Plus, the report contends, many of those ads don’t indicate why an album has an explicit content warning label — or, in some cases, that it may be inappropriate for kids at all.

Amy Weiss, a spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America, defended the music industry’s approach, telling reporters the labeling system is effective and respected by America’s parents.

High marks for movies, video games

Top movie studios, however, have stuck to a promise not to advertise R-rated pictures during G- and PG-rated features, the report says. The FTC also applauded information on movie Web sites indicating the reasons for its content rating.

The report had similar praise for video game companies, saying ads on television gave, for the most part, video and audio disclosures of a game’s rating. But the FTC said print ads for games with mature ratings continued at the same rate as before last September’s report, and said M-rating labels were often smaller than required by industry code.

The topic could make its way into legislation later this week, as Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman is expected to introduce a bill that would sanction firms marketing violent products to children.

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