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As government plots how to "reform" magazine sweepstakes promotions, it's just common sense that publishers craft their own blueprint for ridding this key subscription marketing tool of deceptive techniques. Such a self-regulation plan is now forthcoming, says the Magazine Publishers of America, which builds hope that magazine executives are willing to do what it takes to play an active role in the resolution of the sweepstakes controversy.

Though the exact terms of its plan weren't immediately disclosed, MPA seems to know it must offer a list of serious steps its members -- and the big sweepstakes operators -- are willing to undertake. Weak proposals will undermine industry credibility. A strong MPA policy can help publishers fend off those critics who would festoon magazine sweepstakes promotions with so many caveats, warnings and restrictions that their usefulness would be fatally compromised.

Lawmakers and regulators should realize millions of U.S. consumers enjoy sweepstakes. And they satisfy marketer needs, as their ubiquity in all sorts of product categories demonstrates. There's no reason publishers and public officials can't together arrive at a plan that rids magazine sweepstakes of

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