July 24, 2008

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

Appeals Court Overturns Super Bowl Indecency Fine

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed a Federal Communications Commission fine against CBS for the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. Dismissing the $550,000 fine, the court said that the FCC reacted "arbitrarily and capriciously" to the half-second broadcast, noting that the FCC did not penalize networks for fleeting incidents of indecency in the past 30 years. The incident resulted in increased FCC scrutiny of broadcast decency and led Congress to increase fines from $27,000 per station, per incident to $325,000 in 2006. In a statement, CBS said it hoped the ruling would lead to a returned FCC policy of restrained indecency enforcement.
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Tobacco Advertising Bill Could Reach House Floor Next Week

HR 1108, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, may be considered by the full House as early as next week. The bill, introduced by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., would grant the FDA authority to impose restrictions on tobacco advertising and allow state governments to further restrict ad placement. The Senate version of the bill was approved last year. The AAF sent a detailed letter to all members of Congress outlining our opposition to the bill, arguing that the proposed bill would result in a de facto ban on tobacco advertising, in violation of the First Amendment. A copy of the letter is available here. Additionally, the AAF alerted its members of the bill and urged them to contact their members of Congress in opposition to the bill. A copy of the alert is available here.
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Second Senate Childhood Obesity Hearing Held

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Children and Families Subcommittee held its second hearing on childhood obesity, focusing on methods of prevention and solutions. Ideas proposed include giving the Department of Agriculture broader authority to regulate foods sold in vending machines on school grounds, improve funding for physical education and create incentives to encourage walking and bicycle use to and from school. Self-regulatory efforts were highlighted as well, especially the partnership of the American Beverage Association and the Alliance for Healthier Children, which have agreed to limit school vending machine offerings. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who chaired the hearing, indicated that he will introduce legislation to create a federal childhood obesity task force.
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Senate Subcommittees Plan Children's Food Marketing Hearing

Two subcommittees of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee and the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, will hold a joint hearing on food marketing to children next week. The committee chairman, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the health subcommittee, has long been critical of food marketing to children and called for government regulation in the past.
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