July 18, 2008

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

FCC's No Urban Dictates Rule Goes Into Effect

The Federal Communication Commission's new rule prohibiting urban dictates in broadcast advertising contracts has gone into effect. The antidiscriminatory policy, enacted in December 2007, prevents advertisers from excluding minority-oriented radio stations when purchasing advertising time. Specifically, the rule states that advertisers "certify that their advertising-sales contracts contain nondiscrimination clauses that prohibit all forms of discrimination." In October 2000, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13170, which ensures that minority-owned businesses are fairly represented in federal advertising and other telecommunications contracts. The executive order was signed at the behest of the American Advertising Federation and other parties working to develop effective multiculturalism strategies for the advertising industry. In response to the new rule, the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council has asked FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to create a dedicated compliance office to ensure that broadcasters and advertising agencies adhere to the rule.
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Rep. Waxman Renews Efforts to Restrict Tobacco Advertising

With the endorsement of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has placed HR 1108, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, on the Union Calendar for consideration by the full House. The bill would grant the FDA authority to impose restrictions on tobacco advertising and allow state governments to further restrict ad placement. The House may consider the legislation as early as next week. The Senate version of the bill was approved last year. The AAF believes that the proposed restrictions are unconstitutional and have sent members of Congress letters alerting them of our First Amendment concerns. A copy of the letter is available here.
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Senate HELP Committee Holds Childhood Obesity Hearing

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Children and Families Subcommittee held its first of two hearings on childhood obesity, hearing testimony on the health and social impact of the epidemic. Senator Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who chaired the hearing, said that childhood obesity has become a medical emergency that will become exponentially more difficult to tackle without immediate action. No legislation was under consideration; instead, the purpose of the hearing was to outline the problem of childhood obesity, focusing on the health and social impact. The panelists for the hearing were: Dr. Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health; Dr. Francine Kaufman, past national president of the American Diabetes Association and current professor at the University of Southern California; Dr. Margaret Grey, professor at Yale School of Nursing; and Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a children's health advocacy group. The panelists focused on the need for increased prevention of obesity, saying that the national focus is on treatment of health issues, rather than prevention. The next subcommittee hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, July 23, will focus on potential solutions to childhood obesity. Sen. Dodd indicated that the two hearings may lead to further congressional investigation.
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House Telecommunications Subcommittee Holds ISP Behavioral Targeting Hearing

At a hearing this week, House Energy and Commerce Committee Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, D-Mass., said that consumers should have to opt in before Internet service providers can collect behavioral tracking data and called for comprehensive online privacy legislation. The hearing focused on deep-packet inspection, a method by which companies can monitor data traveling across the Internet in order to filter viruses and spam, but can also record and share the data for advertising purposes. ISPs using the tracking technology are working to allow customers to receive notice of tracking when they sign on to their account and allow them to opt out of the tracking. Last week, in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the same subject, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-S.D., compared the practice to wiretapping.
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CPSC Conference Meetings Underway

House and Senate conferees met for the first time this week to resolve their differences in H.R. 4040, the Consumer Products Safety Commission Reform Act. The Senate version of the bill contains a provision that would require manufacturers, distributors or retailers of children's toys that contain small parts to include additional cautionary statements in or immediately adjacent to Internet and catalog advertisements. The House version instead calls for a CPSC investigation of the need for additional warning labeling before requiring it. The members of Congress considering the legislation are Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, John Sununu, R-N.H., and Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, as well as Reps. John Dingle, R-Mich., Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Bobby Rush, D-Ill., Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Joe Barton, R-Texas, Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Cliff Sterns, D-Fla. Prior to Senate approval of the bill, the AAF sent letters to senators asking them to adopt language present in the House bill. A copy of the letter is available here.
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AAF Government Report is available to all members of the AAF. If you are interested in receiving an e-mailed copy, please e-mail government@aaf.org.