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Sex, Violence And Marketing

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Sex, drugs, and violence in movies and video games are not being marketed to kids as widely as they were in the past. But the recording industry is still pushing sexually explicit and violent music to children, according to the government's consumer watchdog agency.

A new Federal Trade Commission report says that the music industry, though it has placed parental guideline labels on much inappropriate material, still markets such material in magazines and television shows that are popular with teens. A review of industry marketing materials used to sell explicit content-labeled recordings showed plans for extensive advertising in television, radio, print, and online, the most popular teen venues.

The report does indicate the music industry making some progress, showing that it is beginning to follow its own guidelines calling for parental guidelines to be included in the advertising of explicit material.

It is that progress that the industry highlights in response. Hilary Rosen, the president of the Recording Industry Association of America, says in a statement that, "Surveys show that public education is what parents care most about and we are confident in our success in this area."

In its own study on industry marketing, the RIAA finds that in September of 2001, 90 percent of industry ads contained a parental guidelines label, as compared with 24 percent in September 2000, the month of the FTC's initial report.

In movies and games, the FTC report shows the industries making "commendable progress." The highlights:

  • In the review of the marketing plans for six violent R-rated and three violent PG-13 rated films, the FTC found no express targeting of either R-rated films to children under 17 or of PG-rated films to those under 13. Trailers for R-rated films were not shown before G or PG-rated films, the report found.
  • Positive steps to limit ad placements for Mature?rated electronic games have been taken by the industry, but some games continue to be marketed in venues that are popular with teens.

    Finally, the report faults the retail side of these industries for hampering the efforts to keep explicit material from children. The FTC says 48 percent of theaters sold tickets to R-rated movie to underage patrons and 90 percent of music retailers sold explicit-content recording to underage shoppers. Those numbers show no improvement from the agency's first study.

    The study was conducted by tracking advertising in media popular with teens and reviewing industry documents regarding the marketing plans of adult-oriented material.

    By Rob Hendin © MMI, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved