Government Report: May 17, 2007


FCC Commissioners Say Agency May Seek to Regulate Food Advertising
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate said that their agency might seek new restrictions on televised food marketing to children. In response to questions asked by House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, D-Mass., the commissioners said that if the task force on media and childhood obesity is unable to develop new self-regulation guidelines, the FCC might open a new inquiry on food marketing to children. Martin and Tate said they would consider a new report on food marketing once the task force completes its work and makes its recommendations. The AAF is disappointed by these comments, as the advertising industry has been working closely with FCC on the task force toward positive results.
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Introduced Data Security Bill Targets Criminals
A new data security bill introduced in the House would give the Justice Department increased authority in prosecuting data thefts. H.R. 2290, the Cyber-Security Enhancement Act, introduced by Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, would broaden the criminalization of electronic data theft, boost online crime law enforcement budgets and impose harsher penalties on criminals caught stealing personal data. Notably, the legislation targets criminals, rather than attempting to stifle new computer technology, as would similar bills, which have been introduced in the House for a number of years but have yet to be signed into law.
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Groups Call for Broad Food Marketing Study
Three consumer groups have called on the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a broader inquiry into food marketing to children, saying that studying television advertising is insufficient. In comments submitted to the FTC, the Center for Digital Democracy, Children Now and the Berkeley Media Studies Health Group argue that new marketing approaches, including interactive games and virtual worlds, should be given the same attention as television advertising. The comments are part of a public inquiry into the state of children's marketing, in advance of a follow-up workshop on food marketing and obesity scheduled for July.
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Study Refutes Violent Television Repercussions
A new study published by the Media Institute refutes claims that depictions of violence on television influence children's behavior. The author of the study, Dr. Jonathan Freedman, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, is critical of those who claim there is a causation between violent programming and aggression, noting that aggressive children might simply prefer more violent television. Freedman is especially critical of the Federal Communications Commission report on television violence, calling it "a missed chance." He said the FCC ignored evidence in favor of opinion when producing the report. Freedman's paper, "Television Violence and Aggression: Setting the Record Straight," can be found at
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