Lieberman introduces bill targeting entertainment marketing
By The Associated Press
|Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., left, and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., meet reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday to discuss bill that would penalize entertainment companies for marketing adult material to minors.
WASHINGTON Sen. Joseph Lieberman says the entertainment industry hasn't kept its promise to quit marketing sex and violence to kids, so he's keeping his by pushing for a bill that would penalize companies that continue the practice.
But industry officials say Lieberman's proposal could lead to the end of voluntary ratings and labels.
"The net result is going to be a shrinkage of information to parents," predicted Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Lieberman, D-Conn., introduced a bill yesterday that would expand the Federal Trade Commission's authority to crack down on businesses that engage in "false and deceptive advertising practices." Entertainment companies found to be marketing adult material to minors would be subject to fines of $11,000 per day.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., would apply only to movies, music recordings and video games that carry voluntary ratings or labels warning parents that the material is inappropriate for children. The bill would make it illegal to market to minors R-rated movies, M-rated video games and music with parental advisories.
Inquiries into possible violations would be triggered by citizen complaints, the senators said. The FTC also would initiate probes, as it already does in other enforcement areas.
The bill would give the FTC a year to draw up regulations.
Industry officials said the proposal tramples on free-speech rights and would be rejected by the courts. The senators disagreed.
"We can do this without getting anywhere near government censorship," Lieberman said at a news conference.
Cary Sherman, general counsel of the Recording Industry Association of America, said by targeting items that already are rated or have labels, the bill would encourage companies to provide less information to parents.
"By essentially punishing those who adopt voluntary guidelines, the legislation would have the unintentional result of discouraging participation in the successful parental advisory program," he said.
Clinton warned that Congress might implement its own standards if the industry should sidestep the legislation by discontinuing voluntary ratings or labeling.
"I think you'd see a reaction on the part of those in the new Congress to require labeling, as we require it on drugs, as we require it on food," she said. "It is not much of a stretch to say that what we're letting our children put into their heads has as much an impact on their well-being as what they put into their stomachs."
An FTC report issued this week on promotion to minors of adult movies, music and video games noted improvements by the film and video game industries and singled out the music industry as the worst offender.
Lieberman is a longtime critic of the entertainment industry and promised last year to introduce a bill if the industry failed to police itself and stop marketing sex and violence to children.
"As much as I appreciate the progress," he said, "I can't really give a wholehearted hooray for Hollywood."
Lieberman renews efforts on entertainment-marketing bill
Lawmaker sends letter asking Senate colleagues to support plan, as House introduces his measure to punish media companies for promoting adult material to minors.