Music industry gets low marks for limiting marketing of violent entertainment to children

Thursday, December 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Record companies continue to market albums with explicit lyrics to children while other industries have become more restrained in advertising violent and sexually explicit entertainment, a federal study says.

The music industry has made progress with using parental advisories in advertising, the Federal Trade Commission said, but record companies still promote music with explicit content in the most popular teen venues of television, radio, print, and the Internet.

The FTC report to Congress on Wednesday was the second follow-up to a study last year that found entertainment companies targeted teen-agers by advertising in the places they most watched and read.

The latest report, however, said the movie and electronic game industries made ``commendable progress'' in not targeting children with advertising for R-rated movies and games rated for mature audiences.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said he and other lawmakers would write the five biggest music companies and demand that they stop targeting inappropriate records to children.

``They have repeated excuses for their ongoing inaction that sound more and more like a broken record trying to defend a broken system,'' said Lieberman, a vocal critic of the entertainment industry.

The music industry's parental advisory labeling program _ unlike rating programs for movies and video games _ doesn't designate an age for which labeled music may be inappropriate.

``It serves to empower parents so that they, not the recording industry, can make their own determinations about what content is appropriate for their particular child,'' Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, told the FTC.

Rosen said the music industry has made ``tremendous progress'' and that nearly all full-page ads for albums with explicit lyrics now have parental warnings compared to only about a quarter of such ads in May.

Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., said he was troubled that over three-quarters of the music reviewed by the FTC was rap and hip-hop music and the suggestion that it is inappropriate for teen-agers because of its content.

Mary Engle, who directed the FTC study, said researchers examined the best-selling music titles with explicit content and did not single out any one type of music.

The report also criticized retailers for continuing to allow many 13- to 16-year-olds to buy movie tickets, games and music with restrictive ratings.

Noting progress in the film industry, the report said a review of teen-age magazines and previews shown before G- and PG-rated movies found no advertising for films intended for adults. Reviews of internal industry documents found that film companies have avoided targeting children for those films.

Movie studios also now routinely disclose ratings and the reasons for ratings in their advertising, an improvement since last year, the report found. The game industry has made similar progress explaining their ratings and a review of television shows for teens found little advertising for mature-rated games.

Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, and Doug Lowenstein, president of the video game industry's Interactive Digital Software Association, said the report shows their self-policing is working.

Lieberman said he plans legislation requiring the FTC to conduct a similar review every year for the next five years. He also said he would put on a hold a bill he introduced in April that would have expanded the agency's authority over the entertainment industry and fined companies found to be marketing adult material to minors.

``There is no pressing need for government standard setting,'' he said. ``Marketing self-regulation is working.''