DVD Biz Get Mixed FTC Grade12 Apr, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Limited self-regulation by retailers of unrated and R-rated DVDs to minors contributed to a mixed grade by the Federal Trade Commission in a report on the marketing of violent entertainment to children released April 12.
The report, which involved unaccompanied children, ages 13 to 16, posing as mystery shoppers, found that among retailers of movies, music and video games, the best age-verification occurred on sales and rentals of video games.
The mystery shoppers were successful just 42% of the time obtaining M-rated games in 2006, compared to 69% in 2003.
For R-rated DVDs, 71% of the children were able to purchase product, compared to 81% in 2003. For unrated, 71% of the under-age mystery shoppers successfully purchased produt.
By comparison, sales to minors of explicit-content labeled music CDs fell to 76% from 83% in 2003.
The report was critical of studio marketing practices on the Internet where violent R-rated movies were routinely advertised on sites popular with children. The report found that 18 of 20 movies studied by the FTC were advertised on sites where a third of the audience was under 17.
“The increasing prevalence of marketing unrated DVDs containing content that might warrant an NC-17 rating, coupled with the poor performance of retailers in restricting the sales of such DVDs to unaccompanied children, is a particular concern,” said the report.
“The latest FTC report shows improvement, but also indicates that the entertainment industry has more work to do,” said FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras.
In response, the Entertainment Merchants Association (formerly VSDA) lauded video game retailers for their vigilance in controlling under-age purchases and said it accepted “the challenge to extend that performance to the retailing of DVDs.”