Government Report: July 11, 2007


Pharmaceutical Bill Passes House Without DTC Restrictions
A drug safety bill that originally contained provisions mandating a new-drug advertising moratorium and an advertising preapproval requirement was approved by the House of Representatives without these restrictions. H.R. 2900, the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007, introduced by House Commerce Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., was amended by Reps. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., and Steve Buyer, R-Ind., to remove provisions that would have given the FDA authority to impose a three-year moratorium on prescription drug advertising, required preapproval of both individual DTC ads and comprehensive marketing plans and added additional and unwieldy mandatory warning language to ads and packaging. The Senate passed a similar bill earlier this year. The differences in the two bills must be resolved by the two legislative bodies before the president signs it into law. The AAF and the advertising community strongly supported the amended version as offered by Reps. Towns and Buyer.
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FTC/HHS Obesity Workshop Set for Next Week
On July 18, 2007, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services will hold a follow-up meeting to their 2005 forum on marketing, self-regulation and childhood obesity. Representatives from the food, media and advertising industries will report on the progress they have made and new initiatives addressing food marketing to children. AAF President & CEO Wally Snyder will represent the advertising community at the meeting.
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Obesity Task Force Report Postponed
A final report from the media and obesity task force led by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Federal Communications Commissioners Kevin Martin and Michael Copps has been postponed until September, so that information presented at next week's Federal Communications Commission and Department of Health and Human Services workshop may be considered and included in the task force report. The task force has held regular meetings aimed at examining the impact of media on childhood obesity and to consider solutions to the problem. House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, D-Mass., responded to news of the postponement by calling on the FCC to initiate formal rule making into children's food marketing on television immediately.
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Rep. Markey Calls on Food Companies to Modify Advertising Plans
Following Kellogg's announcement last month that it will change the ways it advertises to children, House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, D-Mass., wrote letters to McDonald's, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kraft Foods and PepsiCo asking them to implement the same marketing limitations as Kellogg's. The company will no longer advertise food products to children under 12 unless they meet nutritional standards and will modify its Web site to include more healthy lifestyle information. Markey has expressed interest in limiting food advertising during Federal Communications Commission mandated educational programming aimed at children, as well as other government-imposed restrictions on food marketing to children.
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Fairness Doctrine Ban Bill Introduced
A proposed bill amendment introduced by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to provide opposing arguments when airing controversial issues. The amendment was introduced after some members of Congress, including Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., suggested that the doctrine be reinstated to ensure fairness in broadcasting.
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