December 12, 2007

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

House Passes Permanent Do-Not-Call Registry Bill

The House approved a bill making the federal do-not-call registry permanent, meaning that if signed into law, consumers will not have to renew their participation every five years. H.R. 3541, introduced by Rep. Michael Doyle, R-Pa., modifies the 2003 law that created the registry. While the bill does not require consumers to re-register their phone numbers, it does mandate that the Federal Trade Commission, which manages the registry, to periodically remove numbers no longer in use. Another bill passed by the House, H.R. 2601, introduced by Rep. Cliff Sterns, R-Fla., will permanently fund the system that operates the registry, which is free to consumers. Both bills must be approved by the Senate before reaching the president's desk.
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School Nutritional Standards Amendment Proposed for Farm Bill

Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, co-sponsored an amendment to the Senate farm bill reauthorization that would set nutritional standards for food sold in schools outside of cafeterias, including vending machines and school stores. The proposed regulation comes after many companies have agreed to restrict their advertising of food to children. The amendment has support from consumer health groups and many food and beverage companies, including Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg and Pepsi-Co. Many of these companies have already agreed to advertise to children only products meeting nutritional standards. It is not yet known when the Senate will take up the farm bill.
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Eleven Companies to Restrict Food Marketing to Children in Europe

Eleven food companies have announced they will limit their advertising to children under 12 years old in Europe. The "EU Pledge" is similar to the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative announced in July. Each company will set its own nutrition guidelines for what may be marketed to children on TV, in print and on the Internet, with enforcement monitored by an independent group. The companies will stop advertising products that do not meet their guidelines before the end of 2008. The European Union's health and consumer affairs commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, called on industry to limit its food marketing to children voluntarily or face additional regulation. The companies committing to what they call the "EU Pledge" are: Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg, PepsiCo, Danone, Ferrero, Kraft, Mars, Nestle, Burger King and Unilever.
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GAO Report Says Digital TV Transition Efforts Fall Short

A new report issued by the Government Accountability Office suggests that the government is not doing enough to coordinate the February 2009 analog-to-digital television transition. House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, D-Mass., requested the report and called on the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which is overseeing the digital transition efforts, to implement the recommendations offered by GAO, including the development of a comprehensive plan of action for the government and industry to follow, rather than a laundry list of regulatory tasks completed or in progress. A copy of the report is available here.
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