AAF Government Report

January 22, 2010

Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs

Alaina Flaherty, Federation Intern

AAF Asks Congress to Go Slow on FTC Changes

The American Advertising Federation has joined a broad coalition of associations and businesses in asking Congress not to be hasty in granting the Federal Trade Commission broad rulemaking authority. A little noticed provision in the House passed legislation to create at new Consumer Financial Protection Agency would make a dramatic change in how the FTC can pass rules governing advertising and other business activity.

The Commission currently operates under the so–called "Magnuson-Moss" rulemaking procedures. These procedures require that the agency show the prevalence of a specific practice and receive input from affected groups – including businesses and consumers – before enacting an industry-wide rule governing the practice. The provision in the House bill would do away with the Magnusson–Moss requirements.

The House provision passed with no hearings or discussion as to why the provisions should be scrapped. AAF believes doing away with these safeguards would be bad for businesses and consumers. A copy of the letter can be found here.
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Children Spending More Time With Media

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released the latest installment in its study on media use by children ages 8 to 18. The study found that the youth spend an average of over 7.5 hours daily with media, an increase of an hour and 15 minutes from 5 years ago. The increase is in large part because of the increased access to mobile devices such as cell phones and iPods. These new devices have caused significant changes in how children access television programming. There was very little mention of advertising in the report and no mention of any possible effects of media and advertising on childhood obesity or food choices.
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First Lady to Focus on Obesity

In an address to many of the nation's mayors, First Lady Michelle Obama said that she would soon announce a major administration initiative to address childhood obesity. While she gave no specifics, she said the initiative would not consist of commands from Washington to state and local governments and businesses. Rather, it would be to launch strategies to help restore physical and nutrition education in schools and to provide communities better access to quality foods including fresh fruits and vegetables.
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Consumer Advocacy Groups Create Debate Over Mobile Marketing

Two consumer advocacy groups, Center for Digital Democracy and Consumer Watchdog, recently issued a joint request to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to block Google's purchase of the mobile ad network AdMob. The groups' plea is based on anti-trust and consumer privacy issues. They also expressed fear that Google will preemptively gain a monopoly on the mobile ad market, as the rapidly growing AdMob serves ads on approximately 15,000 mobile Web properties.
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FCC Creates Airwave Transition

The Federal Communications Commission intends to proceed with its plan to reallocate up to half of digital airwaves to wireless carriers. The agency initially plans to give stations the opportunity to voluntarily turn in licenses giving up as much as half their spectrum space. However, the agency has not ruled out requiring action in the future. The change is part of the FCC's plan to create a national broadband plan with universal affordable wireless by 2020.

This action comes less than a year after broadcasters put billions of dollars into the transfer to digital transmission. Broadcasters fear many channels will be cut as a consequence of loss of spectrum space, despite FCC assurances that channels can be relocated with little disturbance.
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FCC Requires Channel Sharing

The FCC has voted 4–1 to change a provision of the 1992 Cable Act that allows cable companies to withhold programming – such as regional sports networks and premium content — from rivals. Cable companies have been permitted to withhold content because provisions in the law only pertain to channels and programming delivered by satellite and not terrestrial means, such as fiber-optic lines. The "no" vote was cast by Commissioner Robert McDowell, who stated: "The FCC is not Congress. We cannot rewrite statutes."
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AAF Government Report is available to all members of the AAF. If you are interested in receiving an e-mailed copy, please e-mail government@aaf.org.

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Go to the Government Affairs Main Page.