June 2009

Transformers Marketing Still Not Transformed: CCFC Urges FTC to Act; Commercial-Free Play: Retro or Revolutionary; Commercial Radio on School Busses is Not in the Public Interest; CCFC's Father's Day Appeal to President Obama Delivered to the White House

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Transformers Marketing Still Not Transformed: CCFC Urges FTC to Act

Marking the June 24th release of Paramount’s newest PG-13 blockbuster, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, CCFC sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging the Commission to stop the marketing of violent, PG-13 movies to young children. From March 17th to June 14th, CCFC found that over 2,700 commercials for PG-13 films, including Star Trek, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Terminator Salvation, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen–and related productsaired on children’s channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network during hours when young children were likely to be watching. Such marketing is particularly concerning because of “ratings creep;” films rated PG-13 for violence today would have received the more restrictive R rating a decade ago.

The letter comes two years after CCFC filed a complaint with the FTC detailing how the first Transformers film, also rated PG-13, was being marketed to very young children. In January, 2008, the FTC responded to CCFC’s complaint by encouraging the Motion Picture Association of America, the film industry’s self-regulatory body, to develop a marketing plan for PG-13 films “consistent with the rating.” Eighteen months later, PG-13 blockbusters still target young children through ads on children’s channels for the films, their licensed toys, and fast-food kids meal promotions. CCFC is demanding that the FTC take action instead of relying on hopes that the film industry will self-regulate. The MPAA’s inaction on the FTC’s request makes it clear that the Association has no intention of taking voluntary action to stop major film studios from marketing violent PG-13 films to children.

To read CCFC’s letter to the FTC, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/pdf/lettertoftcjune09.pdf.

To learn more about how this summer’s PG-13 films are targeting young children, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/pg1309.html.

Commercial-Free Play: Retro or Revolutionary

A few months ago, we received an essay from CCFC member, Phil Starr, called “Games Grandpa Used to Play.” In it, he talks about the joy he and his friends got out of playing games like Street Baseball, Over the Wire, and Johnny on a Pony–games that required nothing more than a ball, a box, or some loose change, and that were handed down on the street through generations of children. To read Phil’s essay please click here.

It’s easy to dismiss our adult reminiscences of the games we used to play as mere nostalgia, but as we read Phil’s essay we realized that in a commercialized world where companies compete to brand children’s play instead of promoting freedom and creativity, the preservation of these games and other ideas for commercial-free play is actually revolutionary. Sharing them with others provides an alternative to commercially saturated play and helps us free children up to do what kids have done for generations–make up their own games without depending on Corporate America for fun.

Phil’s essay inspired us to ask you to submit your own commercial-free games and play activities for children–those you played and those your children play today. Our goal is to compile them into a resource for parents, caretakers, and anyone looking to carve out the time and space for commercial-free play.

Actually, our favorite ball game of all is cartoonist Bill Watterson’s Calvin Ball, from Calvin and Hobbes. That’s the game where players make up the rules as they go along, and each player gets to change the rules at any time. Oh, yes–it’s best played with an imaginary tiger.

To read "Games Grandpa Used to Play," click here.

Send your commercial-free games to ccfc<at>commercialfreechildhood.org.

Commercial Radio on School Busses is Not in the Public Interest

Hundreds of you submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission urging them to tell Congress that commercial radio on school buses is not in the public interest. Thanks to your efforts, an overwhelming majority of the comments submitted took that stance.

On June 15th, CCFC submitted extensive comments to the FCC detailing our concerns about commercial radio on school buses and about BusRadio in particular, which is currently the only company offering that service. On June 29th, several organizations, including Corporate Accountability International, Parents Television Council, and the Center for a New American Dream, signed on to a letter supporting our comments and those of Obligation, Inc, which has been a formidable foe of both BusRadio and Channel One.

Click here to read CCFC's reply comments to the FCC.

For more information about BusRadio, and our ongoing campaign to keep mandatory commercial radio off of school buses, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/busradio.htm.

CCFC's Father's Day Appeal to President Obama Delivered to the White House

Over 2,500 parents and many professionals signed CCFC’s Father’s Day appeal urging President Obama to direct the FTC and FCC to reevaluate current policies to determine whether or not they provide adequate protection for today’s children. The current unprecedented convergence of ubiquitous, miniaturized screen media and unfettered commercialism affords corporate marketers unparalleled access to children. During his campaign, President Obama alluded to some of the challenges he faces as a father raising young children in media-saturated culture. Many of our members included their own personal messages to the President.

Lynda Paull, of New York, New York commented, “Your family values are my family values. Please use the power of your office to protect our children from being brain-washed by commercialism before they can make informed choices. Let their mind and souls and bodies develop in the healthiest ways possible.”

To read these and other comments from CCFC members, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/obamaquotes.html.

To read CCFC’s letter to President Obama, please visit http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/t/6725/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1935