FTC on the marketing beat

Fewer teens can see R pix

WASHINGTON — Teens still have a good shot at sneaking into R-rated movies, but theaters are starting to crack down, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s latest report card on Hollywood’s marketing of violence to children.

Report to Congress, the fourth the FTC has issued on the topic in as many years, found a marked decline in the number of teens shoppers who were able to buy tickets to R-rated shows.

In the latest test, 36% of teens age 13-16 participating in the undercover operation were able to buy tickets to R-rated shows, compared to 46% who were able to do so in the original report.

The review was not so glowing for DVD retailers, which sold R-rated movies to 81% of teen shoppers in the first study that included DVD sales.

Overall, the report was a mixed bag for the movie, music and electronic game industries. Agency offered muted praise of the biz for providing better rating information in ads and continued criticism for placing violent ads where teens are likely to see them.

Report concluded that studios continue to advertise R-rated films and DVDs on TV shows watched by a large number of teens and in public places where teens hang out — what the FTC deemed “an apparent resurgence of a practice that previously had decreased.”

Agency gave the studios some kudos for disclosing film ratings in television, print and Internet Web site ads while slamming the DVD retailers, which the report noted “often do not contain ratings or reasons at all.”

Other highlights:

  • The music biz has “substantially curtailed” advertising in print media popular with teens but continues to place ads on TV shows with “substantial teen” auds.

  • All online music downloading services examined provided some sort of advisory about explicit content, but only one-third offered a way for parents to exclude it.

  • 83% of teenaged shoppers were able to purchase recordings labeled as restricted from children.

  • Game biz has shown “substantial but not universal” improvement in limiting ads for M-rated games to areas where children under 17 are less likely to see them.

  • 69% of undercover teen shoppers were able to buy M-rated games.

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