FTC has its fill of phony diet ads

Media outlets asked to screen clients more carefully

WASHINGTON — The media biz better go lite when it comes to airing bogus weight-loss advertisements, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.

The FTC’s Howard Beales, who heads up the Consumer Protection Bureau, said reputable media outlets should be embarrassed by some of the ads that have run. His comments came one day after he and FTC topper Timothy Muris met with media reps in Washington.

Muris largely praised the major broadcast nets for doing a good job screening out deceptive ads. He said other media outlets have a tougher time, and that the FTC is only asking that they screen out the most egregious examples.

“The claims are so ridiculous,” Beales said.

The FTC will continue to meet with cable TV execs and newspaper publishers. If certain outlets aren’t willing to cooperate, the FTC could consider legal action, Beales said.

Federal law prohibits media companies from disseminating false ads.

The consumer reg agency is putting together a list for media outlets of the most common examples of deceptive claims, such as being able to lose weight without eating less.

Cable execs say they want to cooperate fully. Generally speaking, each cabler has its own set of standards. There’s also a voluntary list of guidelines put out by the Cabletelevision Ad Bureau.

(Wire services contributed to this report)

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