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Vice President Al Gore today raises the pressure on marketers and ad agencies to increase their use of minority media. A series of studies being disclosed comes with a veiled threat: The Justice Department's Office of Civil Rights is watching.

Mr. Gore and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Bill Kennard both address an American Advertising Federation event in New York, and aides said their hope is to engage in a dialogue with the industry that will bring change without need for legal action.


Mr. Gore will present early results of a study to make sure the U.S. government's own advertising makes opportunities available to a diverse group of ad companies and broadcasters. He is taking the unusual tack of not only speaking -- via satellite -- but answering questions, while Mr. Kennard will directly offer a set of proposed principles for marketers and agencies to follow and then stay for a closed-door roundtable discussion.

Among the principles they will seek to establish is that marketers should ensure fair access to information for all consumers; promote fair product competition; and work to expand employment opportunities for all Americans.

Mr. Kennard earlier unveiled an FCC study of problems faced by minority broadcasters that showed they were getting less of a share of ad dollars than their ratings would dictate. At that time, there was a recommendation for a voluntary industry code to ensure there was no bias in media buying (AA, Jan. 18).

Mr. Gore also will challenge attendees to make voluntary commitments, as a way of demonstrating that they understand diversity and the economic logic of serving minority consumers.


Last week, AAF President-CEO Wally Snyder said no minority advertising code is likely to emerge from the conclave today, if ever.

"We expect we will start discussing a code, but we are not overpromising in terms of solutions," said Mr. Snyder. "This is an opportunity to educate the FCC in the realities of the industry. This is not a one-sided issue."

He said this meeting "is the first time the clients and agencies have a chance to respond to the [earlier] FCC report."

How many major marketers and agencies will attend today's event remained uncertain last week. AAF declined to provide a list of attendees or to give a breakdown.


Messrs. Kennard and Gore and two congressmen, Reps. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D., Mich.) and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), will use the AAF event to unveil a series of government activities related to the minority issue, including:

* An Office of Management & Budget study of whether government offices are adequately targeting minorities in their contracting for advertising and media. (Mr. Gore will disclose some initial findings in his speech.)

* An interagency working group that will examine the FCC minority advertising report and determine what needs to be done to get more information about the disparity between media buys and its impact on minority ad agencies and media. Besides Justice and the FCC, others on the working group include the Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission.

* A request to the General Accounting Office to update the results of a 10-year-old study into how much the federal government uses minority-owned media and advertising companies.

A report had been requested by former Rep. Cardiss Collins (D., Ill.); a new

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