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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Less than an hour after legislation was introduced in the Senate today giving the Federal Trade Commission authority to prosecute movie, video game and music
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Jack Valenti said the movie industry would drop rating system if law passed.
companies that advertise adult-rated material to children, the movie industry threatened to drop its entire ratings system.

Jack Valenti, chairman-CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said that while he doubted the legislation would ever pass, or that it would survive a court review, he would recommend the motion picture industry drop its existing rating system the second the bill becomes law.

Mr. Valenti, who personally crafted the rating system more than 30 years ago, said he could not, in good conscience, recommend that publicly held companies subject themselves to a voluntary ratings system that made them liable to civil punishment.

'Totally defective'
He called the bill "totally defective" and said it should be entitled "a death sentence bill for voluntary film ratings."

Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said their Media Marketing Accountability Act was a necessary first step to help parents. While two recent FTC reports have only criticized the industries' marketing practices of violent products to children, the legislation would allow the FTC to prosecute marketers. Additionally, the legislation is not only restricted to violence but to sexual content or language as well.

Sen. Lieberman called the bill "a narrowly tailored shield to help protect our children," and said the legislation was not censorship.

Sen. Kohl said the industries "have been able to speak out of both sides of their mouth."

'Common sense'
Sen. Clinton said their was little reason to believe the industries would act on their own, and that the "common-sense" legislation does little more than say that if industries label their content for adults, they can't advertise it to children.

She said there is "a lot of evidence" that children are getting exposed much too early to violence and sexual messages, and she warned that if the industries weren't willing to accept the law, the next step might be to impose content-labeling standards, similar to those for food products.

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