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FTC to Issue Guidelines on Deceptive Ads

Federal regulators want publishers and broadcasters to reject deceptive weight-loss ads, and they soon will assemble a list of implausible claims to make such screening easier, a top federal regulator said Wednesday.

"We want to weed out the most egregious" weight-loss ads, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Timothy Muris told advertising trade groups in Washington, D.C. "We can simplify the media's job."

Muris said the agency would assemble the list in coming weeks and distribute it to publishers and broadcasters. He said troublesome ads often promise weight loss without dieting or exercise.

Some media executives have expressed apprehension about screening the ads, saying they are ill equipped to decide whether weight-loss claims are scientifically valid. Muris said the list of implausible claims would provide "clear guidance."

Muris spoke to a government affairs conference of the American Advertising Federation, the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and the International Advertising Association.

"We all have a stake in showing the industry can work with government ... without resorting to regulatory tools," Muris told the advertisers. In remarks to reporters, he said the agency had not decided whether it would issue regulations if the media fails to limit the deceptive ads.

Posted on aef.com: March 17, 2003.


Todd Shields, Mediaweek.com. March 12, 2003

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