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WASHINGTON ( -- The chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business called on the Federal Trade Commission to be more aggressive investigating the practice of slotting, the payments by manufacturers to retailers for prominent shelf position or ad display in stores.

Reacting to the FTC's recent release of a report on its slotting workshop last summer, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., said on March 13 the FTC must sharpen its focus on concentration issues as slotting affects smaller companies.

"The commission's report signals a recognition of the harmful effects of questionable business practices to exclude small competitors from the marketplace. ... It gives short shrift the widely held concern that big retailers, and the buying power they wield, may amount to an unfair advantage against small manufacturers and suppliers," he said.

Sen. Bond, who held his own hearings on slotting and moved to give the FTC $900,000 to probe the practice, said he remains concerned that the commission isn't acting quickly enough.

"With so little reliable data on slotting practices available to the public, and no evidence to prove that consumers do not suffer from higher prices and few choices at the store, it is critically important that the FTC devote sufficient resources to thoroughly examine buying power as part of its study of slotting fees, which is now under way," Bond said.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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