Violence Essay Research Paper Title Industry Slow

Violence Essay, Research Paper

Title: Industry Slow To Reform Marketing Violence To Kids. (cover


Subject(s): VIOLENCE in mass media — United States; SOUND recording

industry — United States; ADVERTISING & youth — United States;

UNITED States. — Federal Trade Commission; LIEBERMAN, Joseph —

Political & social views

Source: Billboard, 05/05/2001, Vol. 113 Issue 18, p1, 2p, 1c

Author(s): Holland, Bill

Abstract: Looks at reaction to a follow-up study released by the

United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which criticized the

record industry for not offering reforms to prevent the marketing of

violent products to children. Comment from Senator Joseph Lieberman

about the Recording Industry Association of America; Information about

a bill the would authorize the FTC to monitor and fine entertainment

industries that deceptively market adult-rated material to children;

AN: 4382343

ISSN: 0006-2510

Database: Academic Search Premier

Best Part


Dateline: WASHINGTON, D.C.

Officials from mental health, children’s, and public interest groups

made scathing indictments of record industry officials after the

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an April 24 follow-up study

lambasting the industry for not making reforms to prevent the

marketing of violent product to children.

“I’m surprised and disappointed in the record industry,” Sen. Joseph

Lieberman, D-Conn., told Billboard April 26 after the announcement of

a bill, co-sponsored by former first lady and Sen. Hillary Clinton,

D-N.Y., and Herb Kohl, D-Wis., that would authorize the FTC to monitor

and fine entertainment industries that deceptively market adult-rated

material to children. “Especially since the two other industries, the

movie studios and the video-game industry, have made strides to

improve their marketing in the last six months.”

Lieberman said the Recording Industry Assn. of America (RIAA) has

“sadly been MIA” – i.e., missing in action.

“Six months [after the FTC report], we can see who has responded to

the report and who has failed to answer the call,” Clinton said at the

joint announcement of the bill. “We are basing this [bill] on a very

simple premise: If you label something as inappropriate for children,

then you go out and try to entice our children to buy your product or

see it, you have engaged in false and deceptive advertising.”

The bill, if passed, would give the FTC the authority to penalize

companies with civil fines of up to $11,000 per offense.

RIAA senior executive VP and general counsel Cary Sherman commented

that the bill “raises serious constitutional red flags” and “would

have the unintentional result of discouraging participation” in the

industry’s voluntary stickering program.

That announcement of the bill follows an April 24 statement from the

chairman of the Commerce Committee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and

Sens. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C.; Sam Brownback, R-Kan.; and Max Cleland,

D-Ga., critical that the industry stopped short of legislative remedy.

The FTC’s “snapshot” update looked at what had changed since its

initial September 2000 report on violence and media (Billboard, Sept.

23). The FTC found that the movie and video-game industries had

instituted reforms but that the record industry had not made good on


Andrew Schwartzman, president of public interest law firm the Media

Access Group, believes the industry has brought the criticism upon

itself. “There is a difference between what one has a right to do and

what is socially responsible,” he says. “It appears they have targeted

a mass audience for this material, and then they’re ‘horrified’ when

it’s discovered what they’ve done. They’re being duplicitous – in the

end, they’re lying.”

He continues, “They say they’re not marketing to kids, but they are.

If they say one thing and do another, some people are going to argue

that that’s an unfair trade practice in violation of the law. So

they’re going to have to accept the consequences, and the consequences

are going to be contrary to artists’ interests and their own long-term


Jeff McIntyre, federal affairs officer for the American Psychological

Assn., says, “Basically, it’s cowardly if you’re not going to stand

behind your word and not believe in your artists’ product enough to

make sales without having to back down behind Congress’s back and then

target this stuff at preadolescents.”

Dr. Michael Rich, spokesman for the American Pediatric Assn.’s

committee on education, says he’s not surprised by the FTC’s findings.

“I didn’t get a sense from [RIAA president Hilary Rosen's] testimony

at the original hearing in the fall, or from what has happened since,

that there’s much effort in any genuine sense to do anything about


Rich also continues to be alarmed by the unavailability in stores of

so-called sanitized versions of songs that children hear on radio.

“I’ve gone into Tower and HMV [in Boston], and you can’t get airplay

versions. In fact, it’s considered reprehensible in some stores to

even carry sanitized versions.”


The FTC criticized the RIAA for withdrawing a plan to withhold ads

from media with an under-17 audience of more than 50%. The trade group

explained it did so because of the suggestion by some federal

lawmakers last fall that companies could be prosecuted for enforcement


Pam Horvitz, president of the National Assn. of Record Merchandisers

(NARM), says the lawsuit “serves as a perfect example of what could

happen to [label and retailers] – exposing us to liability for failing

to enforce voluntary guidelines.”

The RIAA had announced its guidelines Sept. 1, shortly before the

original Senate hearing (Billboard, Sept. 13). They included three

major updates: that advertising for labeled records should not appear

in publications or Internet sites where 50% of the audience is under

17, that all consumer print ads of explicit-content albums display the

advisory sticker, and that E-tailers clearly display notice of

stickered material through all phases of the transaction.

At the time the RIAA announced the guidelines last September, Rosen’s

response to the following day’s FTC report included her statement, “No

good deed goes unpunished.” Responding on April 25 to FTC criticism

that, some six months later, the RIAA had not yet implemented its own

promised guidelines, Rosen stated, “Any legislation that references a

voluntary program creates a disincentive to comply. It winds up

proving that no good deed goes unpunished.”

Confronted with the appearance the RIAA was trying to have things both

ways, Mary K. Engle of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and

director of the study told Billboard the commission’s slam came

because the RIAA either withdrew or didn’t follow through on all its

own recommendations.

“They gave us three, and we were looking at all three,” Engle says.

“Then they only withdrew one of them – not placing ads in media with a

50% under-17 audience. But they didn’t withdraw the other two – and

they didn’t act on those two.”


The FTC shows that U.S. record companies continue to advertise violent

songs on TV through such outlets as BET, MTV, and the WWF Smackdown

wrestling show. The ads appeared during the after-school and

early-evening hours when children were most likely to be watching.

The FTC also found that the five major labels placed ads for albums

with explicit content in such teen oriented magazines as Vibe and

Right On, which focus on rap and R&B, and Thrasher and Metal Edge,

which celebrate metal rock music. Universal Music Group placed more

advertisements – 25 – for stickered albums in youth magazines than any

other label. Warner Music Group had the fewest, with seven ads.

Only 45 of 147 (31%) print ads reviewed for labeled recordings

displayed any parental advisory label, the FTC noted, and those were

frequently “a black-and-white blur, often too small or inconspicuously

placed to be noticed or seen.”

The report also found that:

* There were few advisory label disclosures on TV ads. A spot check

found that only five of 23 ads showed the advisory label, and none

were clearly legible.

* On record company Web sites, “less than half of the sites provided

notice of a recording’s explicit content.” Few were legible.

* Such E-tailers as Amazon,, and CDnow did better in

providing “some information” about the explicit nature of the

recordings. Only Amazon complied fully with warnings in “large,

easy-to-read print, prominently displayed.”

The study also said that “neither the RIAA nor any of its members,

however, is willing to provide content description in advertising or



Rosen said in a written statement that the RIAA didn’t have time to

update its two remaining reforms: “Unfortunately, the FTC report

followed too quickly on the heels of our implementation of these new


Michael Greene, president/CEO of the National Academy of Recording

Arts and Sciences, says the RIAA is “getting a raw deal” from the FTC

for the withdrawn plan to refrain from placing stickered-product ads

in youth-oriented media.

Greene says, “To have some of the states and private individuals – and

then even the inference that the FTC legal counsel themselves – were

going to look into bringing charges because that voluntary process was

not being implemented expeditiously enough, what did they expect the

RIAA to do? Of course they pulled it back.”

Danny Goldberg, chairman/CEO of Artemis Records, says that while the

FTC is right in calling for updated stickering policies, it crossed a

line. “The FTC made two main points: one reasonable, that the industry

show parental stickers in ads, and one unreasonable – the FTC seems to

have made a dictatorial decision that children under 17 shouldn’t be

allowed to buy stickered albums. This is not appropriate.” Goldberg

says that “while I totally respect the views of those who choose not

to allow their children to listen [to such albums], they have no right

to put that value system on the whole country.”

But Noah Stone, newly hired executive director of the Recording

Artists Coalition (RAC), says the RAC believes “that while artists

across the board are First Amendment advocates, because artists aren’t

involved in the marketing of their albums, they want the labels to do

so in a truthful and appropriate manner.”


While the FTC recognized the efforts of the movie and video-game

industries to address the FTC’s concerns, Engle asserts that the RIAA

“ignored all of our suggestions,” such as moving to a

one-size-fits-all warning label.

Many record industry officials- – and some lawmakers –believe that a

label that describes visual media and offers age requirements, such as

for movies, videos, and video games, cannot be applied to sound

recordings. “There’s just no correlation between visuals and lyrics,

which can be interpretive,” Goldberg says.

Yet other observers have often noted that the music industry has spent

two decades helping support the visual media of music videos and music

television networks to both interpret and promote the sale of specific

music recordings via television.

Engle also takes the RIAA to task for spinning numbers in its

post-study statement, which says that the original FTC report in

September states that 75% of parents are satisfied with the RIAA’s

voluntary parental advisory program.

“They have misinterpreted what we reported,” she says. “That 75%

number was only of the parents who were aware of the system. You have

to subtract out the parents who had never even heard of the system.

And when you do that, the number of parents who said they were

somewhat satisfied or satisfied drops to about 54%.”

The FTC study chief also took individual record companies to task for

not stepping up to the plate with reforms. “Just because the trade

association didn’t institute changes doesn’t mean that individual

member companies couldn’t have done so.”

Meanwhile, the FTC’s Engle was pleased by one facet of Rosen’s written

statement, which read, “We agree that we need to do a better job of

following our own guidelines.”

Engle says, “I was glad to read that. She’s never said that before.”


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