Results of Nationwide Undercover Survey Released

Results to Be Discussed at Workshop Scheduled for October 29, 2003, on Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children and Industry Self-Regulation

For Release

 

The Federal Trade Commission released its 2003 nationwide undercover survey of stores and theaters, or “mystery shopper” study. The survey was conducted to collect data on the extent to which retailers prevent children from purchasing entertainment products that have been rated or labeled by entertainment industry self-regulatory associations or entertainment producers as potentially inappropriate for children. Commission staff, through a contractor, recruited 13 to 16-year-olds unaccompanied by a parent to attempt to purchase movie tickets, movies on DVD, music recordings, and electronic games at 899 theaters and stores in 39 states. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the Department of Justice funded the survey.


The 2003 survey shows that 69 percent of the teenage shoppers were able to buy M-rated games; 83 percent were able to buy explicit-labeled recordings; and 36 percent were successful in purchasing tickets for admission to an R-rated film at movie theaters (see Table 1 below). For the first time, the Commission also surveyed DVD retailers, where 81% of the teen shoppers were successful in purchasing R-rated movies on DVD.

Table 1: Intersurvey Comparison


Was the shopper able to buy the product or admission ticket? (Percent “Yes”)

Entertainment Product Type

2000 Survey Results

2001 Survey Results

2003 Survey Results

Movie Theater Ticket

46%

48%

36%*

Movie on DVD

n/a

n/a

81%

Music Recording

85%

90%

83%*

Electronic Game

85%

78%

69%*

* Denotes a statistically significant difference from the 2001 survey. Data for comparison were not available for DVD retailers.

The teen shoppers also noted: 1) whether the store or theater had signs, posters, or other information to inform customers about the rating system or the seller’s policy on rating enforcement; and 2) whether the cashier or clerk asked the shopper his or her age before purchase (see Table 2 below).

Table 2: Availability of Rating Information/Age Question Results

Entertainment Product Type

Does the venue provide information about ratings or ratings enforcement? (Percent “Yes”)

Did the cashier or clerk ask the child’s age? (Percent “Yes”)

  2001 2003 2001 2003

Movie Theater Ticket

59%

62%

39%

48%*

Movie on DVD

n/a

26%

n/a

19%

Music Recording

12%

21%*

10%

13%

Electronic Game

26%

27%

21%

24%

* Denotes a statistically significant difference from the 2001 survey. Data for comparison were not available for DVD retailers.


This survey is the third in a series conducted in connection with the Commission’s reports on the marketing of entertainment violence to children. The survey results will be discussed at the Commission’s day-long workshop to be held on October 29, 2003. The goal of the workshop is to address the state of self-regulation in the entertainment industry, including children’s access to products that have been rated or labeled as potentially inappropriate for them.

The workshop panels will feature members of entertainment industry groups, rating and labeling organizations, retailers and retailer trade associations, parent and consumer advocacy groups, and other interested parties. There also will be an overview of the research on the effects of violent media on children. The workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to engage in dialogue about working together to ensure that the rating and labeling systems are accurate and useful, that parents are informed about these systems, and that limits on children’s access to entertainment that may be inappropriate for them are effective.

The workshop will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on October 29, 2003 at the FTC Conference Center located at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. It is open to the public, and there is no attendance fee.

A detailed agenda for the workshop is available on the Commission’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/violence/index.html. This Web page also provides links to the Commission’s prior reports on the marketing of violent entertainment products to children and other related documents.

Documents relating to the Commission’s review of the marketing of violent entertainment products to children are also available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and 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 (1877-382-4357), 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.

 

 

Mark Eichorn
Division of Advertising Practices
202-326-3053

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Cathy MacFarlane
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-3657
STAFF CONTACTS:
Richard Kelly
Division of Advertising Practices
202-326-3304