Bill sparks media marketing issue


As two Congressmen prepared to introduce his bill in the House, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) this week began a new round of publicity for legislation that would give the Federal Trade Commission authority to fine companies that market adult-rated content to kids.

Lieberman plans to join Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Tom Osborne (R-Neb.) at a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday, during which Lieberman also will release a letter he is sending to President George W. Bush, asking him to support the bill. So far, the Bush administration has been silent on the issue, in direct contrast to the Clinton administration's frequent chastising of the entertainment industry.

For their part, media companies and entertainers are strongly opposed to Lieberman's bill, urging Senate Democrats not to support it. It is co-sponsored by Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).

"We appeal to consumers, parents and policymakers to continue to encourage the entertainment industry to improve its ratings systems and marketing practices through non-legislative actions," wrote actor and Creative Coalition President William Baldwin. "The threat of civil penalties is an extreme reaction to a problem whose solution lies in voluntary self-regulation by the creative industries, action these industries have successfully undertaken and continue to improve upon. Responsible adults should not be subject to having their choices restricted or monitored by the government."

Other celebrities signing the letter include Lauren Bacall, Richard Belzer, HBO Chairman Jeff Bewkes, Chevy Chase, Wes Craven, Alan Cumming, Bo Derek, Olympia Dukakis, Ron Reagan, Ben Stiller, Kathleen Turner and Robin Williams, among others. - Paige Albiniak