Hollywood, Digital Games Makers Lauded for Progress

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Federal Trade Commission today issued the expected update to last year's report on the marketing of violent movies, video
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games and music and praised the Hollywood and the video-game industry for "commendable progress," while chastising the music industry for not doing enough.

Last year's report, which drew angry reaction on Capitol Hill, said that while the movie industry had been rating products for an older audience, it had clearly targeted them at a younger audience, according to the industry's marketing plans. The rport also suggested video-game makers were advertising violent products in inappropriate media.

Today's report said a review of the movie industry's internal documents pertaining to violent films rated R or PG-13 "revealed no express targeting of either R-rated films to children under 17, or PG-13 rated films to children under 13." The commission also said it found no ads for R-rated movies in teen magazines and that trailers for R-rated movies seemed to no longer run before G and PG-rate films.

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Some ratings not readable
The commission also said the movie industry was doing a better job of seeing that movie ratings are included in ads, but it also found that in some cases the rating was not readable.

The FTC again took issue with where some TV ads ran, standing by its position that ads for R-rated films shouldn't be in programming unless at least 65% of the audience is adult. The report said the three studios whose marketing plans the FTC examined have all stopped advertising violent, R-rated films during most of MTV's programming.

Game makers praised
The video-game industry was praised for taking strong action to limit ad placements for violent games, but the FTC said two games makers expressly targeted an under-17 audience, and the commission found that some ads for M-rated games running in youth oriented magazines and Web sites.

The music industry, on the other hand, took it on the chin as the report took the industry to task for its continued unwillingness to provide age or content ratings. Music contains only a parental advisory sticker.

"Marketing documents for 13 explicit-content labeled recordings included extensive advertising in the most popular teen venues," the report said.

Congressional response
While the report was called "the good, the bad and the ugly" by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who has been critical of the entertainment industries, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said the progress has been significant enough that he is putting on hold for now plans to proceed with new legislation.

Sen. Lieberman's proposed legislation, which has been attacked by the advertising community and the entertainment industries, would have given the FTC new authority to go after companies that rated entertainment products one way but marketed it another.

Sen. Lieberman, whose legislation was co-sponsored by Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Herbert Kohl, D-Wis., and Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said he will instead push legislation that would require the FTC to make an annual review of the entertainment industry.

Sen. Brownback said he, too, would work to ensure the FTC maintains its vigilance on the industry and suggested that now the attention will focus mostly on the music industry.

Several of the industries today responded to the report.

"The FTC's report confirms that the film community has made good on the 12-point set of initiatives we presented to the Congress in September 2000," said Jack Valenti, president-CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said the industry "has made tremendous progress in our campaign to inform parents about the parental advisory. ... We are heartened that the Federal Trade Commission's report did reflect the many steps we have taken and the progress we have made to strengthen our program."

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