Government Report: March 14, 2007


Digital Television Converter Box Plan Announced
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its plan to subsidize the cost of converter boxes needed to view over-the-air digital television on older analog television sets. The NTIA, an agency that reports to the president, will issue $1 billion in coupons to households who request a converter box and an additional $500 million on an as-needed basis to households without cable or satellite subscriptions. The coupons will give consumers a $40 discount off the purchase price of a converter box. Broadcasters are supporting the plan, saying it will ensure that Americans do not see white static on their analog televisions when the digital television transition is completed in February 2009.
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AMA Calls for College Sports Alcohol Advertising Ban
The American Medical Association (AMA) has called on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to prohibit alcohol advertising during college sporting events, saying the ads promote underage drinking. Currently, the NCAA limits alcohol ads to one minute per hour of broadcast and does not allow ads for hard liquor. The AAF supports the alcohol industry’s self-regulation advertising guidelines, which include limiting alcohol ads to audiences where at least 70 percent of the viewing audience is expected to be of legal drinking age. Nielsen data indicates that 87 percent of all college football and basketball games have an audience above the legal drinking age.
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Children’s Food and Beverage Initiative Head Named
The Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) and the National Advertising Review Council (NARC) have chosen former Federal Trade Commission official Elaine Kolish to head its new Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. This program will enforce pledges made by member companies to promote healthy products and exercise more effectively and limit use of licensed characters and interactive games. Kolish was the director of the FTC Division of Enforcement in the Bureau of Consumer Protection and had a 25-year career at the FTC before moving to private practice. The 11 companies who have joined the initiative are responsible for more than two-thirds of children’s food and beverage advertising on television.
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Gross Receipts Tax Proposed by Illinois Governor
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has proposed a gross receipts tax in his 2008 budget. Depending on specifics, the proposed 1.8 percent tax could potentially affect all business transactions in the state, including media advertising sales. The impact of the tax on advertisers is still being examined. The AAF has discussed the issue with local club members in Illinois.
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Joint Government Affairs Conference Set for May 2
The 2007 Joint Government Affairs Conference is scheduled for May 2, 2007, at the Washington Post in Washington, D.C. The conference is sponsored by the AAF, as well as the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers. Confirmed speakers to date include Federal Communications Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate and Washington Post columnist David Broder. This event is free to all AAF members. For more information, visit
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