Cutting Slasher Ads

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The Federal Trade Commission is putting another squeeze on TV advertising by Hollywood, record labels and video-game makers.

Earlier this month, a new FTC report praised the entertainment industry for honoring pledges not to advertise violent movies, music and games when kids make up 35% or more of the audience.

Virtually unnoticed in the press coverage, however, was a call to cut back the ads even more. Now, the FTC wants to stop marketing violent entertainment during all of prime time, regardless of the percentage of children watching.

That’s because most prime time shows draw large raw numbers of kids even when the audience is mostly adults.

The FTC complained that 59 ads for seven films rated R for violence ran during an eight-week period in programs popular with teens. For instance, The Matrix Reloaded was advertised on WWE Smackdown21 and BET’s Rap City.

The 35% pledge was drafted in response to FTC complaints about entertainment marketing practices in 2000, but the agency is asking for a new set of “best practices” to avoid teen audiences.

 So far, the industry appears to be avoiding the FTC’s latest request. Neither the Motion Picture Association of America nor The Director’s Guild would comment on the new entreaty.

Industry watchdogs are taking notice, however, and are asking movie studios and others to rethink their advertising strategies. “A great deal more needs to be done” says Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

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