September 27, 2007

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

Drug Safety Legislation Passed by Senate

The Senate has approved by voice vote a bill authorizing Food and Drug Administration funding without onerous advertising restrictions. The House has already approved the measure, and the president is expected to sign it into law. Plans to add advertising restrictions to the conference version of the bill were purportedly under consideration, but like the bills passed by the House and Senate, the restrictions are not present in the final conference report. The original version of the bills 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 warning language to ads and packaging. These restrictions would have set a dangerous precedent for all advertising but were removed from final versions of the bills because of work done by the AAF and a broad coalition of companies and trade associations.
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Reps. Markey and Waxman Call for FCC Product Placement Rules Review

Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Henry Waxman, D-Calif., have written to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin expressing their view that the FCC should review its policies concerning disclosure of product placements during television broadcasts. In the letter, Markey and Waxman argue that product placements undermine the integrity of television programming and are often unfair and deceptive. The congressmen asked Martin to examine whether "rules sufficiently achieve the statutory requirement to inform the viewing public of the actual products being sponsored in a show as well as the entity that paid for such sponsorship. In May, the House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, which is chaired by Markey, held a hearing concerning product placement issues. The Federal Trade Commission currently regulates product placement for deceptive uses of the advertising tool. In 2003, Commercial Alert, an advocacy group, called on the FTC to further regulate product placement, a proposal that the FTC ultimately rejected, arguing in 2005 that the present system was effective.
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House Commerce Committee Schedules Digital Television Transition Hearings

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled two hearings next month to address digital television transition and consumer education concerns. The first hearing, scheduled for October 17, will focus on the government's role in educating consumers about the February 2009 transition from analog to digital broadcast television signals, while the second hearing, scheduled for October 31, will allow the television industry to discuss its role in the transition. Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., will lead the meetings. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, will hold its own digital transition hearing on October 17.
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Senate Considers Ban on Internet Taxes

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will consider a bill extending the ban on Internet access taxes for four years. The bill (S. 1453), introduced by Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., joins a bill introduced by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and John Sununu, R-N.H., which would make the moratorium permanent. The original ban on Internet taxes was enacted in 1998 and extended twice. The most recent law is set to expire on November 1.
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