Amendment Stripped From Media Indecency Bill; Other Measures Likely

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NEW YORK ( -- While the U.S. House of Representatives passed a stringent indecency bill today without a provision to ban advertising of erectile dysfunction treatments, the sponsor of the ban plans to bring it to the floor again.

An elderly couple share a romantic moment in this image from Cialis' latest TV commercial. The spot includes a warning about four-hour erections.

The House voted 389-38 to approve the Broadcast Indecency Bill of 2005, which increased fines for indecency from approximately $32,000 to $500,000 per incident. But the House Rules Committee turned down an amendment proposed by Rep. James Moran, D-Va., before the bill moved to the floor.

6 a.m. to 10 p.m. ban
Mr. Moran's amendment would have banned TV and radio ads for erectile dysfunction medications from the air between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The regulation is similar to curbs on hard liquor advertising that have been in place for network TV, said Austin Durrer, the congressman's spokesman.

"There are things some parents don't want to discuss with their children while they're watching prime-time TV and when the ad says one of the side-effects is four-hour erections," said Mr. Durrer.

The spokesman said Mr. Moran is hoping other House members join him to introduce the ban as a stand-alone bill.

ANA voices concerns
The prospect worries Dan Jaffe, executive vice president for government relations of the Association of National Advertisers. Both indecency and pharmaceutical advertising are controversial topics, but up until now there had not been a concerted effort to ban advertising of one category of products, he said.

Erectile dysfunction drugs have been big broadcast advertisers since Pfizer's introduction of Viagra in 1998. Viagra and its two newer competitors, Levitra (from Bayer AG and GlaxoSmithKline) and Cialis (from Eli Lilly and Icos Corp.), spent a combined $240 million on TV and radio ads from January through October 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

'Positive effects'
The proposed ban "ignores the fact that this advertising has had some very positive effects," Mr. Jaffe said. "I think we have to be very careful what we do in those areas."

He quoted studies that show 130,000 men who saw their doctors regarding erectile dysfunction as a result of the pharmaceutical ads had been found to have related illnesses, such as diabetes and high-blood pressure. The proposed ban is "well-intentioned, but misguided," he said.

"If [Mr. Moran] proposes it [again], we will oppose it," he said.

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