The Public Interest

The “kid vid” crusade

Robert H. Mnookin & Susan Bartlett Foote

Fall 1980

About two years ago, at the urging of child advocates, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) spearheaded a crusade to protect children from exploitation by television advertising. The FTC staff proposed rules that would have resulted in a ban of most children’s television advertising.  The FTC primarily premised its far-reaching rulemaking proceeding on “unfairness,” a standard with few legal precedents, rather than on “deception,” a well-established standard with more confining limits. Like a true believer, Michael Pertschuk, the chairman of the Commission, led his followers into battle: “Setting legal theory aside, the truth is that we’ve been drawn into this issue” because of the “conviction” that “childrens advertising is inherently unfair.”

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