The Federal Trade Commission, which earlier told Congress that marketers of movies, videogames and music were advertising toward children content that the industries say is rated for adults, on Nov. 21 said it has concluded it doesn't have the authority to regulate the claims. That could place a battle for new legislation to regulate the claims on the front burner for the next congressional session. Presidential candidate Al Gore already has gone on record warning marketers that if they don't make changes voluntarily, he will seek legislation if the FTC lacked authority to act. Congressional officials immediately expressed disappointment. Sen. Herb Kohl (D., Wis.), who with Sen. Mike DeWine (R., Ohio) had written FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky asking about the FTC's authority, said he remained "committed to using congressional oversight to encourage responsible corporate behavior." The FTC decision that it doesn't have authority to act wasn't a surprise. Movie studios and other marketers have contended that the FTC can't use as an enforcement vehicle their ratings systems, which were adopted as guides to the public.
Copyright November 2000, Crain Communications Inc.