For Release: December 5, 2001
The Federal Trade Commission today released a follow-up report to its September 2000 Report, Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children: A Review of Self-Regulation and Industry Practices in the Motion Picture, Music Recording & Electronic Game Industries. The Report responds to a request from Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Max Cleland (D-GA), and Sam Brownback (R-KS) of the Senate Commerce Committee. The senators requested that the Commission examine whether the entertainment media industries continue to advertise violent R-rated movies, explicit-content labeled music, and M-rated electronic games in popular teen media and whether they are including rating information in their advertising.
To prepare this Report, the Commission tracked advertising placement in media popular with youth and reviewed advertisements in all media - print, television, radio, and the Internet - to determine whether the advertisements include clear and prominent rating and labeling information. In addition, the Commission reviewed internal company documents provided by nine individual industry members, including marketing plans for certain R-rated movies, explicit-content labeled music, and M-rated games released since the Commission's September 2000 Report.
The Report indicates that the motion picture and electronic game industries have "made commendable progress in limiting their advertising to children of R-rated movies and M-rated games and in providing rating information in advertising." The Commission's review of ad placements by the music industry, however, found that "it has continued to advertise explicit content recordings in most popular teen venues in all media," although there were "improvements in the music industry's disclosure of parental advisory label information in its advertising."
The Report also points to a number of companies in each industry that have adopted best practices that go beyond the industry self-regulatory programs.
Some key findings about each industry's marketing of violent entertainment material include:
The one popular teen venue where studios continued to advertise R-rated films was television. The Motion Picture Association of America has set no specific limits on ad placements, and though some, but not all, studios have announced they will not advertise R-rated movies in venues with a 35 percent or more youth audience share, this threshold permits continued advertising on the programs with the largest number of teen viewers.
The Commission found that the movie industry has made real progress in disclosing rating information in its advertising. Studios now routinely disclose both ratings and reasons for ratings in their television, print, radio, outdoor, and online advertisements - a significant improvement since the September 2000 Report. Although the Commission identified a number of studios that have done a good job in making their disclosures clear and conspicuous, it also found that a significant percentage of rating reasons were not readable.
Regarding the disclosure of parental advisory label information in its advertising, the Commission found that recording companies increasingly are complying with recently
announced industry-wide guidelines that the parental advisory be included in all advertising of explicit-content labeled recordings. Although a promising start and a clear improvement since the September 2000 Report, continued efforts will be needed to achieve widespread compliance.
Because the industry's labeling program does not call for providing the reasons for the labels, such information is not part of the labeling or advertising disclosures.
The Commission found that the game industry has made substantial progress in providing accurate and prominent rating information in advertising. With a revised game industry code now in place that strengthens and clarifies disclosure requirements across all media, there remain only a few key areas where the code and compliance need strengthening.
The Commission approved the Report by a 5-0 vote. Commissioner Orson Swindle issued a concurring statement http://www.ftc.gov/os/2001/12/swindleviolstmnt.htm
in which he emphasizes the lack of serious attention by the music industry and retailers to the Commission's recommendations in its two earlier reports and urges Congress, parents, and the general public to persuade the music industry and retailers to change their behavior.
Copies of the Report are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad.
(FTC Matter No. P994511)