Actors Urge Dems to Withdraw Support of Media Accountability Act

July 7, 2008 - 7:03 PM

( - Several actors and actresses and other members of the arts and entertainment community sent letters to several Democratic senators Tuesday urging them to withdraw support of the Media Marketing Accountability Act, because they believe it threatens the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Actors William Baldwin, Robin Williams, Ben Stiller and Jane Alexander - all members of the "Creative Coalition" - were among the signatories to Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).

The proposed legislation, introduced by Lieberman, will give the Federal Trade Commission control over the way adult-rated entertainment like movies, music and video games are marketed.

The measure empowers the FTC to impose fines on entertainment companies that market adult-rated products to children. The concept of "deceptive" advertising practices would be linked to the content of creative products.

Baldwin, who also serves as president of the Creative Coalition said in the letter, "A governmental role in defining 'acceptable' entertainment is an indirect form of censorship. There are better, more workable and more tolerant solutions.

"We appeal to consumers, parents and policymakers to continue to encourage the entertainment industry to improve its ratings systems and marketing practices through non-legislative actions," he said.

"The threat of civil penalties," Baldwin added, "is an extreme reaction to a problem whose solution lies in voluntary self-regulation by the creative industries, action these industries have successfully undertaken and continue to improve upon.

"Responsible adults should not be subject to having their choices restricted or monitored by the government," he said.

Others signing the letter were actresses Lauren Bacall, Bo Derek, Olympia Dukakis, and Kathleen Turner. Actors Chevy Chase, Wes Craven and Ron Reagan, son of the former president signed the letter as well.

Lieberman still supports the bill, a spokesperson for the Connecticut senator said Tuesday.

Back in April, when he introduced the bill, Lieberman said, "our government can work on behalf of parents to prod the entertainment industry to draw some lines to protect our children without approaching censorship.

"Some video game makers and movie studios, including those that have pledged not to unfairly target kids, are still advertising adult-rated products in places popular with young teens," the senator said.

"Some will claim this is censorship. But the truth is we're not empowering the FTC to regulate content in any way or even to make judgments about what products are appropriate for children," Lieberman said.

"We are simply saying that if you voluntarily label a product as being unsuitable for kids, and then turn around and market it in a way that directly contradicts that rating, you should be held accountable, just like any other company that misleads consumers. That's not censorship, that's common sense," he said.