September 13, 2007

Jeff Perlman, Executive Vice President – Government Affairs
Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – State Government Affairs
Robert Kohlmeyer, Coordinator – Government Affairs

FDA Considers DTC Advertising Study

The Food and Drug Administration announced it might undertake a new study of consumer reactions to direct-to-consumer drug advertising. The study will determine the how consumers view drug safety and side effects of a drug after seeing an advertisement for the ad. These advertisements are an important source of information for consumers and have always required a balanced approach to risks and benefits, but some critics are concerned that side effects are ignored by viewers. In addition to legal requirements, drug advertisements are self regulated through industry guidelines.
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Department of Justice Opposes Net Neutrality

The Department of Justice has publicly opposed network neutrality limits under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission. In a filing made to FCC public comments, the Department of Justice argues that "free-market competition, unfettered by unnecessary government regulatory restraints, is the best way to foster innovation and development of the Internet." Proposed network neutrality laws would prohibit Internet service providers from favoring one company or technology over any other when providing the fastest possible connection speeds. House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Chairman Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., criticized the Department of Justice filing, saying that enacting network neutrality proposals would "preserve the open architecture of the Internet and prevent companies from downgrading and discriminating against competitive Internet services and applications."
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FCC Proposes Rule Prohibiting Channel Bundling

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed rule making that would prohibit television content providers from bundling multiple channels together when selling them to cable companies. The plan comes after cable companies argued against á la carte cable programming requirements, saying that they could not sell channels one at a time because they are required to buy them in bundles. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a proponent of á la carte cable lineups, proposed the plan. The AAF is concerned that á la carte cable lineups will ultimately be harmful to advertisers, media companies and consumers, who will have fewer programming options. Niche networks, including minority, religious and special interest channels, will struggle to remain profitable.
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FCC Approves Dual Carriage Rules

The Federal Communications Commission has approved a proposal requiring cable companies to offer both analog and digital television signals or digital-to-analog converter boxes to all cable customers when broadcast television fully switches to digital television in February 2009. The requirement, which is set to expire three years after the transition, is supported by the broadcasting industry, but opposed by the cable industry, which argues that forced dual-carriage would result in degraded television quality and limited new content.
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California Legislature Approves Menu Labeling Bill

The California Assembly and Senate have passed a measure requiring chain restaurants to provide nutritional information on in-store menus. Senate Bill 120, introduced by Sens. Alex Padilla and Carole Midgen, requires calorie content information to be posted on menu boards in fast-food restaurants and detailed nutritional information included on all menus in restaurants with more than 15 national locations. The rules do not apply to daily specials or custom orders. If signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, California would be the first state with such a requirement, joining New York City and King County, Wash., which already have similar provisions.
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