9523235
B241985

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

COMMISSIONERS:
Robert Pitofsky, Chairman
Sheila F. Anthony
Mozelle W. Thompson
Orson Swindle

In the Matter of

WESTERN DIRECT MARKETING GROUP, INC., and WESTERN INTERNATIONAL MEDIA CORPORATION, corporations.

DOCKET NO. C-3821

DECISION & ORDER

The Federal Trade Commission having initiated an investigation of certain acts and practices of the respondents named in the caption hereof, and the respondents having been furnished thereafter with a copy of a draft complaint which the Bureau of Consumer Protection proposed to present to the Commission for its consideration and which, if issued by the Commission, would charge the respondents with violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act; and

The respondents, their attorneys, and counsel for the Commission having thereafter executed an agreement containing a consent order, an admission by respondents of all the jurisdictional facts set forth in the draft complaint, a statement that the signing of said agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by respondents that the law has been violated or that the facts, as alleged in the complaint, other than jurisdictional facts, are true; and

The Commission having considered the matter and having determined that it had reason to believe that the respondents have violated the Act, and that a complaint should issue stating its charges in that respect, and having thereupon accepted the executed consent agreement and placed such agreement on the public record for a period of sixty (60) days, now in further conformity with the procedure prescribed in 2.34 of its Rules, the Commission hereby issues its complaint, makes the following jurisdictional findings and enters the following order:

  1. At relevant times herein, respondent Western Direct Marketing Group, Inc. was known as Television Marketing Group, Inc., a California corporation with its principal office or place of business at 8544 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90069.
  2. Respondent Western International Media Corporation is a California corporation with its principal office or place of business at 8544 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90069.

ORDER

DEFINITIONS

For purposes of this order, the following definitions shall apply:

  1. "Competent and reliable scientific evidence" shall mean tests, analyses, research, studies, or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area, that has been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by persons qualified to do so, using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.
  2. Unless otherwise specified, "respondents" shall mean Western Direct Marketing Group, Inc. and Western International Media Corporation, corporations, their successors and assigns and their officers, and each of the above's agents, representatives and employees.
  3. "Commerce" shall mean as defined in Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 44.

I.

IT IS ORDERED that respondents, directly or through any corporation, subsidiary, division, or other device, in connection with the labeling, advertising, promotion, offering for sale, sale, or distribution of Cholestaway or any other food, dietary supplement or drug, as "food" and "drug" are defined in Section 15 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, in or affecting commerce, shall not make any representation, in any manner, expressly or by implication:

A. That such product significantly lowers or has any other effect on serum cholesterol levels, with or without changes in diet;

B. That such product significantly lowers serum cholesterol levels or causes significant weight loss even if users eat foods high in fat, including fried chicken and pizza;

C. That such product substantially reduces or eliminates or has any other effect on the body’s absorption of dietary fat;

D. That such product lowers low density lipoprotein cholesterol or improves the high density lipoprotein cholesterol to low density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio;

E. That such product is effective in the treatment of hardening of the arteries or heart disease;

F. That such product causes significant weight loss or has any other effect on weight, with or without changes in diet;

G. That such product significantly reduces or has any other effect on blood triglyceride levels; or

H. That such product significantly reduces or has any other effect on blood pressure levels,

unless, at the time the representation is made, respondents possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the representation.

II.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondents, directly or through any corporation, subsidiary, division, or other device, in connection with the labeling, advertising, promotion, offering for sale, sale, or distribution of Cholestaway or any substantially similar product in or affecting commerce, shall not use the name "Cholestaway" or any other name that represents, expressly or by implication, that the product will lower serum cholesterol levels, unless, at the time the representation is made, respondents possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the representation.

III.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondents, directly or through any corporation, subsidiary, division, or other device, in connection with the labeling, advertising, promotion, offering for sale, sale, or distribution of any product in or affecting commerce, shall not misrepresent, in any manner, expressly or by implication, the existence, contents, validity, results, conclusions or interpretations of any test, study or research.

IV.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondents, directly or through any corporation, subsidiary, division, or other device, in connection with the labeling, advertising, promotion, offering for sale, sale, or distribution of any product in or affecting commerce, shall not represent, in any manner, expressly or by implication, that the experience represented by any user testimonial or endorsement of the product represents the typical or ordinary experience of members of the public who use the product, unless:

A. At the time it is made, respondents possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the representation; or

B. Respondents disclose, clearly and prominently, and in close proximity to the endorsement or testimonial, either:

  1. what the generally expected results would be for users of the product, or
  2. the limited applicability of the endorser's experience to what consumers may generally expect to achieve, that is, that consumers should not expect to experience similar results.

For purposes of this Part, "endorsement" shall mean as defined in 16 C.F.R. 255.0(b).

V.

Nothing in this order shall prohibit respondents from making any representation for any drug that is permitted in labeling for such drug under any tentative final or final standard promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration, or under any new drug application approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

VI.

Nothing in this order shall prohibit respondents from making any representation for any product that is specifically permitted in labeling for such product by regulations promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration pursuant to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.

VII.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondents Western Direct Marketing Group and Western International Media Corporation, and their successors and assigns shall, for five (5) years after the last date of dissemination of any representation covered by this order, maintain and upon request make available to the Federal Trade Commission for inspection and copying:

A. All advertisements and promotional materials containing the representation;

B. All materials that were relied upon in disseminating the representation; and

C. All tests, reports, studies, surveys, demonstrations, or other evidence in their possession or control that contradict, qualify, or call into question the representation, or the basis relied upon for the representation, including complaints and other communications with consumers or with governmental or consumer protection organizations.

VIII.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondents Western Direct Marketing Group and Western International Media Corporation and their successors and assigns shall deliver a copy of this order to all current and future principals, officers, directors and managers, and to all current and future employees, agents, and representatives having responsibilities with respect to the subject matter of this order, and shall secure from each such person a signed and dated statement acknowledging receipt of the order. Respondents shall deliver this order to such current personnel within thirty (30) days after the date of service of this order, and to future personnel within thirty (30) days after the person assumes such position or responsibilities. Respondents shall maintain and upon request make available to the Federal Trade Commission for inspection and copying a copy of each signed statement acknowledging receipt of the order.

IX.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondents Western Direct Marketing Group and Western International Media Corporation and their successors and assigns shall notify the Commission at least thirty (30) days prior to any change in the corporations that may affect compliance obligations arising under this order, including but not limited to a dissolution of a subsidiary, parent or affiliate that engages in any acts or practices subject to this order; the proposed filing of a bankruptcy petition; or a change in the corporate name or address. Provided, however, that, with respect to any proposed change in the corporations about which respondents learn less than thirty (30) days prior to the date such action is to take place, respondents shall notify the Commission as soon as is practicable after obtaining such knowledge. All notices required by this Part shall be sent by certified mail to the Associate Director, Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580.

X.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that respondents Western Direct Marketing Group and Western International Media Corporation and their successors and assigns shall, within sixty (60) days after the date of service of this order, and at such other times as the Federal Trade Commission may require, file with the Commission a report, in writing, setting forth in detail the manner and form in which they have complied with this order.

XI.

This order will terminate on July 28, 2018, or twenty (20) years from the most recent date that the United States or the Federal Trade Commission files a complaint (with or without an accompanying consent decree) in federal court alleging any violation of the order, whichever comes later; provided, however, that the filing of such a complaint will not effect the duration of:

A. Any Part in this order that terminates in less than twenty (20) years;

B. This order's application to any respondent that is not named as a defendant in such complaint; and

C. This order if such complaint is filed after the order has terminated pursuant to this Part.

Provided further, that if such complaint is dismissed or a federal court rules that the respondents did not violate any provision of the order, and the dismissal or ruling is either not appealed or upheld on appeal, then the order will terminate according to this Part as though the complaint had never been filed, except that the order will not terminate between the date

such complaint is filed and the later of the deadline for appealing such dismissal or ruling and the date such dismissal or ruling is upheld on appeal.

By the Commission.

Donald S. Clark
Secretary

SEAL:

ISSUED: July 28, 1998