CCFC's Statement on the FTC's Media Violence Report

For Immediate Release

CCFC's Statement on the FTC's Media Violence Report

FTC Confirms Violent PG-13 Movies Intentionally Marketed to Young Children

BOSTON - Today, the Federal Trade Commission issued an important report, Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children:  A Sixth Follow-Up Review of Industry Practices in the Motion Picture, Music Recording & Electronic Game Industries. 
At the urging of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC),
this year's review included a thorough examination of the marketing of
violent PG-13 films to young children.  For the past three years, CCFC
has documented how blockbuster violent PG-13 movies are blatantly
marketed to young children and urged the Motion Picture Association of
American to put an end to this practice. 
 

Below is the statement of CCFC's Dr. Susan Linn on the report:

The
FTC's report is must-read for anyone concerned about the marketing of
violent media to children.  The report demonstrates that, when it comes
to protecting young children from marketing for violent PG-13 movies,
industry self-regulation has been a complete failure. The MPAA
continues to turn a blind eye toward studios making an end run around
parents in order to target children directly with violent content.

The FTC's review of ad placements confirms CCFC's findings that
targeting young children for violent PG-13 films is pervasive.  PG-13
movies were regularly advertised on children's networks such as
Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network, even though 2- to 11-year-olds
comprise 50% of viewers on these stations regardless of time of day.
The FTC's review of studio marketing plans demonstrates that violent
PG-13 movies are deliberately targeted to young children, even when
studios are aware that parents object to this practice. In
one shocking example, when market research found that many parents of
children ages 7 to 12 were concerned that a movie was too violent, the
studio did not alter its plan to market the film to young children. 
Instead, the studio changed its advertisements to deemphasize the
violent content to "convince more parents that [this movie] will be
'safe for their kids to see.'" 
Another film was heavily promoted
to young children through tie-ins with foods and toys, even though the
studio's market research found that many parents considered the film
too disturbing for their children.  

We are pleased
that FTC questions the effectiveness of the film industry's
self-regulatory efforts.  The report dismisses the MPAA's much-hyped
referral agreement with the Children's Advertising Review Unit  - an
agreement the MPAA claimed would address concerns about PG-13 marketing
- as "not a meaningful self-regulatory measure."  The report also notes
that the MPAA does not consider movie cross-promotions or other
marketing tie-ins to be within its purview, despite the fact these
techniques are often part of a deliberate strategy to target younger
children.   In one instance, the FTC found that the target demographic
for licensed products was for a violent PG-13 film was boys 3 to 11.

While the FTC does an admirable job of documenting the problem, the
Commission's proposed solution - that the MPAA develop an explicit
policy for the marketing of PG-13 to young children - is too little,
too late.  For years, parents, advocates for children, and even the
FTC's staff, have asked the MPAA to develop such a policy, but the MPAA
seems far more concerned with protecting film industry profits than
protecting the wellbeing of children.  Since the MPAA is unwilling to
enforce marketing standards based its own rating system, the FTC should
develop its own set of rules.  If there is any question whether the
Commission has that authority, then Congress should explicitly empower
the FTC with full rulemaking authority to protect children from harmful
advertising.

The FTC's report is available at http://ftc.gov/opa/2009/12/violentent.shtm.

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The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).

 

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