HOUSE KILLS VIOLENCE LABELING: AD GROUPS SAY BATTLE NOT OVER YET; FIREARMS MARKETING TO BE STUDIED

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The House of Representatives, although again ripping the entertainment industry for using "wanton violence in its advertising campaigns directed at young people," last week dropped amendments to the juvenile justice bill that would have required violence labeling on movies, videos and videogames and on their ads.

It also killed another amendment that would have limited the sale of "violent" content to minors.

But the House approved an amendment for a joint study by the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. attorney general on the marketing practices of the firearms industry in regard to children.

WARNING STILL IN SENATE

Although pleased with the actions, ad groups were still noting that the rejected "violence labeling" amendment was a version of legislation being offered by Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D., Conn.)

"We won the first round, but the battle is far from over," said Dan Jaffe, exec VP of the Association of National Advertisers.

An aide to Sen. Lieberman blamed the amendment's demise on House confusion about its effect on V-chip ratings, and said the confusion will be resolved before Senate consideration.

As proposed in the House, marketers had six months to come up with a single labeling system for videos, movies, videogames and movies or the FTC would have been directed to do so. Once the system was established, marketers would have been required to use the labels on all packaging and advertising.

"This is not a ratings system, it's a labeling system," said Sen. McCain, describing the plan. "When [parents] go to a store to buy a can of soup, they sometimes look at the label. What we want to give [parents] is the same ability to determine what is going into their children's minds."

LIKE TOBACCO WARNING

Sen. Lieberman compared the labeling to the surgeon general's warning for tobacco products.

Ad groups, joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and retailing groups, suggested there are big differences between labeling food products for objectively measurable ingredients and labeling entertainment products for subjective definitions of violence.

They also objected to the requirement that a significant portion of broadcast advertising be used to carry the warnings.

"There is nothing wrong with giving parents information," said John Fithian, a lawyer for the Freedom to Advertise Coalition. "The problem here is it would impose severe fines on business people for making an honest mistake [on what is

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