Saturday, April 14, 2007

FTC and CRTC Make Some Regulatory "Moves"

The FTC released it's fifth review of the media industries' marketing of violent (and age restricted) content to children and teens this week, revealing a continued failure among the media industries' self-regulatory systems when it comes to marketing and content restrictions. Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children: A Fifth Follow-UP Review of Industry Practices in the Motion Picture, Music Recording & Electronic Game Industries supports academic research (as well as previous FTC studies) that shows how R-rated films, M-rated games and explicit music is consistently advertised during children's television programs and on websites targeted to (or frequented by) kids and teens. In an overview of the report published by AdWeek, FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras is quoted as saying:
"Self-regulation, long a critical underpinning of U.S. advertising, is weakened if the industry markets products in ways inconsistent with their ratings and parental advisories. This latest FTC report shows improvement, but also indicates that the entertainment industry has more work to do."

And then some...Among the reports' key findings:
- The film industry continues to advertise R-rated movies on TV shows popular with underage (17 years) audiences, including programs where over 35% of the audience is under the required age (in violation of the industry standard).
- 90 percent of R-rated movie ads appear on websites where children under 17 made up at least one-third of the audience.
- A tendency within the videogame industry to place ads for M-rated games on sites where teens represent 45 percent of the audience (a violation of the industry's own standard).
While the FTC is calling for tighter restrictions, it is unclear if this report will make any more impact than the previous four of its kind. As always, when it comes to US media regulation, the best prediction always seems to be "and the saga continues".

In other news, it looks like the CRTC is ready to revisit its 1999 decision not to create new regulation specific to the Internet and other new media, and finally consider expanding its mandate to include these media forms. According to the CBC website:
"Canada's federal broadcast regulator will be considering extending its jurisdiction over new media in public hearings into cross-ownership of broadcasting companies to begin in September. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission released terms of its planned review on Friday.

In the wake of three large media takeovers in the past year, the CRTC announced in March it would conduct a review to ensure "a diversity of voices" in Canadian broadcast media. The commission intends to adopt a holistic approach that will include all components of the broadcasting industry," Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the CRTC, said in a statement.

That approach includes determining whether the CRTC has a role to play in regulating new media, such as broadcasting over the internet. It will also look at cross-ownership of broadcasting companies and companies that are moving into broadcasting digitally over the internet.

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