Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, through its Institute for Public Affairs, applauded the introduction yesterday of the Media Marketing Accountability Act by Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Herb Kohl (D-WI). The goal of the proposed legislation is to stop entertainment companies from deceptively marketing adult-rated products to children, and thus help parents better protect their kids from inappropriate and harmful materials.
The genesis of this bill is last year’s report by the Federal Trade Commission that the movie, music, and video game industries were undermining their voluntary rating systems and deceiving parents by routinely and aggressively marketing heavily-violent, adult-rated products to children. While the FTC has the authority under current law to bring actions against businesses that engage in false and deceptive advertising practices, the FTC’s lawyers have concluded that the Commission’s authority does not extend to this specific deceptive practice. The Media Marketing Accountability Act is designed to fill that gap in the law, and would apply the same rules and penalties under current law to entertainment companies that target the marketing of adult-rated products directly to children. The FTC would be authorized to penalize entertainment companies that market adult-rated materials to children in the same manner and with the same means as any other company that engages in a deceptive act or practice. The FTC could choose to issue a cease and desist order. Or it could levy civil penalties of up to $11,000 per day for each specific violation, depending on the nature of the violation.
Nathan Diament, director of the Union’s Institute, stated that “this legislation is a necessary step in the face of an entertainment industry that seems to lack any ability to engage in appropriate self-restraint. Last year, the FTC found that media companies were including 12 year olds in test-marketing groups for products with adult content. Parents have enough of a challenge to raise their children in the face of the media culture without having the industry engage in deceptive marketing practices. We urge the congress to enact this legislation expeditiously to the benefit of all parents.”