February 12, 2009

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

FTC Issues Revised Behavioral Marketing Guidelines

The Federal Trade Commission has issued revised online behavioral advertising principles, focusing their efforts on personally identifiable information. The guidelines still state that the FTC expects Web sites will provide clear notice about behavioral targeting and offer ways for consumers to opt-out of the data collection. Additionally, the revisions offer further guidance on clear privacy policies, separate disclosures for mobile users, expressed consent for sensitive data, and further consideration companies should give for the length of time they keep data records. In a separate statement, FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz said, "Industry needs to do a better job of meaningful, rigorous self-regulation, or it will certainly invite legislation by Congress and a more regulatory approach by our Commission." In April, the AAF and other industry groups filed comments stating that any self-regulatory principles should be careful not to unnecessarily limit the tremendous benefits that behavioral advertising provides to consumers. Our comments are available here. The FTC's announcement of the revisions is available here. The complete report is available here.
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Digital Television Delay Signed Into Law

President Obama has signed into law a measure postponing the analog-to-digital transition cutoff date from February 17 to June 12. Nevertheless, nearly 500 television stations asked for permission to proceed with the transition on February 17, citing increased costs of dual broadcasting. The FCC is allowing some stations to broadcast exclusively on digital bandwidth but is prohibiting broadcasters from shutting off analog systems in cases where "early termination…poses a significant risk of substantial public harm," and in some cases, requiring a "nightlight" on analog channels with information on obtaining a converter box before June 12. The AAF and its sister organizations issued a statement in January supporting the delay.
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Ad Tax Bill Introduced in South Dakota

South Dakota legislators have introduced a bill that would impose a four percent tax on the gross receipts of advertising services. House Bill 1266 would tax the placement of advertisements targeted to South Dakota residents and businesses, regardless of where the ads originated. It is anticipated that the bill will be considered by the South Dakota House Taxation Committee the week of February 16. Similar bills have been introduced in the state, but each died in committee. The AAF has worked with the Black Hills Advertising Federation and the South Dakota Advertising Federation to contact key legislators to voice opposition to the proposal.
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New Bill Would Require MPG, Fuel Costs in Automobile Advertising

Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y., has introduced a bill that would require new disclosures on automobile advertising. H.R. 818 would require all advertising for specific automobile models to include both estimated miles per gallon ratings and estimated fuel cost ratings. The scope of the requirement would extend to broadcast and cable television, radio, newspapers, magazines and the Internet. The bill was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but no hearings have been scheduled.
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FDA Orders Corrective Advertising for Birth Control Brand

The Food and Drug Administration has required Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals to televise corrective advertising for Yaz, a prescription birth control pill marketed directly to consumers. Under terms of the agreement, Bayer agreed to spend at least $20 million on a new campaign for the product and submit all of its ads to the FDA for approval. Last October, the FDA sent Bayer a warning letter saying that Yaz's television ads overstated benefits and understated risks. In a joint statement, the FDA and 27 attorneys general said their intention was to "clean up misleading advertising in the marketplace."
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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.

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