FTC urges more marketing changes in youth venues

Wednesday, April 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The record industry aggressively peddles adult music to America's teens even as Hollywood curtails ads for violent movies to youths, regulators said in a report to Congress.

The Federal Trade Commission's findings shifted attention from the movie industry to record companies and fueled new discussions about government intervention.

The music industry was singled out as the worst offender in the study of promotions for adult movies, music and video games to minors. Despite significant improvements by the film and video game industries, ``more remains to be done by each industry,'' the FTC said Tuesday.

Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said music advertising changes took effect last October and have not had time to work. She also said that the FTC ``makes a big leap'' in concluding that some recording ad campaigns were aimed at children.

The FTC has been monitoring the movie, music and video-game industries after finding last year that the three promoted products with violence and vulgar language to minors. At the time, the movie industry received the most scrutiny.

``It is clear that some companies are still making an end run around parents, and that more work needs to be done if we want to end this unfair practice once and for all,'' said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.

Lieberman, who campaigned for vice president on the issue last fall, said he would introduce legislation to allow the FTC to fine companies that market adult-rated material to minors.

FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky said that with First Amendment concerns, ``self-regulation continues to be the preferred solution to problems in this area.'' He challenged record companies to make changes before the fall, when another FTC report to Congress is planned.

The report said that the five top recording companies _ Sony, Warner, BMG, EMI and Universal _ advertised adult music on television programs and in magazines with audiences mainly under age 17.

For example, MTV's after-school hours were a busy time for ads for recordings with adult lyrics, according to the report. The study also found ads in teen magazines for groups like Blink-182, Crazy Town and Rage Against the Machine, whose recordings contain explicit lyrics.

Rosen said record companies fulfill their responsibility to parents with a labeling system that warns of explicit content. Companies began including the labels on print advertisements for recordings last fall.

``We agree that we need to do a better job of following our own guidelines,'' Rosen said.

The report said that only about one-fourth of reviewed television and magazine ads for adult music had parental advisory labels. When labels were used, they were often too small to read and did not indicate why the album had the warning, the report said.

``This report demonstrates that while improvements have been made in some sectors, the allure of the marketing dollar appears to pose a challenge to self-regulation,'' Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement with Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., and Max Cleland, D-Ga.

The report praised movie studios for no longer running ads for R-rated movies in magazines with substantial youth readership and for curtailing the showing of adult movie trailers in theaters where children could be.

Movie companies continued to run ads for adult films during television programs popular with teens, the report found.

Last fall, studios agreed to guidelines to curtail underage marketing. Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, said the report shows the association's self-policing was working, but some minor adjustments were still to be made.

The FTC report said that while the video-game industry limited advertising on programs popular with teens, it continued to advertise adult games in magazines with young readers.