Report Shows Progress in Ad Disclosures by Marketers of Movies, Music, and Electronic Games; Compliance with Movie and Game Industry Restrictions on Ad Placements; but Continued Placement of Ads in Some Media with Large Teen Audiences
The Federal Trade Commission today issued the third follow-up review of its September 2000 Report to Congress, Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children: A Review of Self-Regulation and Industry Practices in the Motion Picture, Music Recording and Electronic Game Industries. This new Report responds to requests from the Congressional Committees on Appropriations and from 18 members of the House of Representatives.
To prepare this Report, the Commission tracked advertising placements in media popular with youth, and reviewed advertisements in major media -- print, television, and the Internet -- to determine if they included clear and prominent rating and labeling information. The Commission also reviewed retail packaging for products in each of the three industries to assess the extent to which packaging complied with self-regulatory guidelines for each industry, and included clear and prominent rating and labeling information.
The follow-up Report shows continued progress by the movie and electronic game industries and improvement by the music industry in including rating information in advertising that would help parents identify material that may be inappropriate for their children. The report also shows compliance by the movie and electronic games industries with industry promises to limit ad placements, although the Report finds advertisements by all three industries continue to appear in some media popular with teens.
Specific findings include:
The most-recent FTC Report finds that, as in the past two follow-up reports, the movie industry places virtually no ads for R-rated movies in popular teen magazines. It also finds continued compliance with an industry commitment not to advertise R-rated movies in venues with a youth audience share of 35 percent or more. However, studios continue to advertise R-rated movies in television shows that are popular with teens. The Report states that while movie studios continue to make progress in including rating information and rating reasons in ads, some studios' rating disclosures are difficult to read.
The Report concludes that the music industry continues to advertise music with explicit content on television shows and in print magazines popular with teens, but finds that the industry has made progress in placing the Parental Advisory Label in industry advertising. It notes that although the music industry's labeling program does not require that advertisers indicate why the label contains a parental advisory, one company, BMG Entertainment, has announced an initiative to specify on the label whether violent content, sexual content or strong language is responsible for the Parental Advisory Label, and to include the same information in its advertising.
- Electronic Games
The Report finds widespread compliance in the game industry with standards limiting ads for M-rated games in media with audiences containing a high percentage of teens - 35 percent for television and 45 percent for print. However, the Commission found examples of ads on some television programs popular with teens and in some youth-oriented game enthusiast magazines. The Report finds that the electronic game industry provides rating information prominently in most forms of advertising. The Report concludes that although some areas still could be improved, for example content descriptors in television advertising, there is much in the game industry's rating disclosure requirements that merits duplication by others.
The Commission will monitor the entertainment industry's marketing practices through next year, and will then issue a follow-up report.
The Commission vote to issue the Report was 5-0, with Commissioner Orson Swindle issuing a concurring statement.
In his statement, Commissioner Swindle said, "I support continued Commission monitoring and reporting regarding the marketing of violent entertainment to children. With our reports, we contribute helpful information to the public debate on the extent to which such marketing targets children and teens and the means by which industry can empower parents to make and enforce informed decisions about appropriate entertainment for their children."
"Nonetheless, the First Amendment appropriately limits what the government can do. Despite our scrutiny, the music industry continues to target young people explicitly in its advertising and, for the most part, refuses to provide content-based information that could help consumers. The motion picture and electronic game industries have acted far more responsibly in improving their self-regulatory programs, yet continue to allow advertising of R-rated movies and M-rated games in venues that attract large numbers of teens. To varying degrees, all of the industries fall short in effectively communicating the rating or label as well as the reasons for it. What becomes clear as we continue with our series of reports is that if the public wants a change in these marketing practices, the public must demand that change and express its wishes in the currency of the marketplace."
Copies of the Report and Commissioner Swindle's statement 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), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. 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 U.S. and abroad.
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