February 5, 2009

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

House and Senate Agree to Digital TV Transition Delay

The House of Representatives joined the Senate in approving a bill that would postpone the analog-to-digital television transition from February 17 to June 12. The House vote was 264-158, well more than the simple majority required. Last week, the House voted on the same measure but failed to reach a two-thirds majority required for the bill's passage because it was considered under a special legislative process used that expedites legislation by limiting debate. President Obama, who called for the delay during his transition, said he will sign the bill, S. 352, as soon as it reaches his desk. The AAF and its sister organizations issued a statement last week in support of the delay, stating that as of January 2009, 6.5 million households are "completely unready" for digital-only broadcasts, and another 10.5 million households contained at least one television that was not ready to receive digital signals. A copy of our statement is available here.
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FTC Report Commends Advertising Self-Regulation

In a comprehensive review of the Federal Trade Commission, outgoing Chairman William E. Kovacic commended the self-regulation work administered by the National Advertising Division and the National Advertising Review Council. Kovacic stated that industry self-regulation is particularly suitable to advertising, in which government restrictions raise First Amendment concerns. Additionally, while the document acknowledges the need for government support of self-regulation, it also discusses the risks of too much involvement by the government in the self-regulation process. The report, "The Federal Trade Commission at 100: Into Our 2nd Century," is the result of several workshops and roundtables hosted in September and October 2008 in cities around the world. The complete document is available here.
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FDA Announces DTC Ad Study

The Food and Drug Administration has formalized plans to conduct a study on the effectiveness of direct-to-consumer advertising. The agency's plans include the production of a fictional blood pressure medication advertisement, which the FDA says it will show to 2,400 participants to gauge understanding of presented risks and benefits. According to Kathryn Aikin of FDA's Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications, the data should help to determine "whether additional research is needed to develop the standards called for in the FDA Amendments Act of 2007." The FDA Amendments bill transformed the way that FDA enforces DTC advertising, allowing the agency to punish drug companies who produce ads that are false or misleading.
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AAF Hosts Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y. at Meet and Greet

The AAF hosted Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., at a breakfast meet and greet in New York City. The event allowed advertising executives the chance to discuss their businesses and industry with an important member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Limitations on advertising's fully deductible tax status have long been recognized as a potential new revenue source. Rep. Crowley's committee has jurisdiction over tax and revenue measures. AAF's next meet and greet is scheduled for February 25 in Washington, D.C., with Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y.
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