FTC finds movie studios market R-rated films to juveniles

Monday, September 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON – A Federal Trade Commission investigation into the marketing of violent entertainment to children has found that movie studios show R-rated films to teenagers younger than 17 as part of the companies' research efforts to attract youngsters to such films.

The yearlong FTC report, ordered by President Clinton in the wake of last year's shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, also found that movie studios advertised violent movies on television during after-school hours, in high school newspapers and in comic books.

A report obtained Sunday night by The Washington Post found "pervasive and aggressive marketing of violent movies, music and electronic games" to children – even when those entertainment products have been specifically labeled as appropriate for mature audiences.

The 104-page report, to be released Monday, concluded that these marketing tactics undermine the credibility of the rating systems used to warn parents about the violent content of movies, music and video games. "Such marketing frustrates parents' attempts to make informed decisions about their children's exposure to violent content," states the report.

Of 44 R-rated movies studied by the FTC, the titles of which were not released, investigators found evidence that companies specifically targeted young teens for 35 films. The Motion Picture Association of America defines an R-rated film as one that requires children younger than 17 be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The FTC also found that children younger than 17 were included in marketing research activities. In 33 of the 44 R-rated movies studied by the FTC, the agency found movie studios tested an early version of the film or showed the film's advertising to children younger than 17.