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Senate bill would punish violence marketers

Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) will introduce legislation that would allow the Federal Trade Commission to prosecute companies that market violent materials to children.

Lieberman also suggested he would introduce such a bill last fall, after the FTC issued a report on marketing violent products to kids. FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky has said the agency needs legislation if Congress wants the FTC to enforce action against companies that target market violence to kids.

Senators Lieberman, Kohl and Brownback announced the bill while releasing a report from the National Institute on Media and the Family showing that video game makers have taken effective steps to stop marketing violent video games to children. But the Senators said movie studios and music producers as a whole are not doing enough and may need extra prodding from the government.

"I had hoped that the entertainment industries would meet this challenge voluntarily, for self-regulation is the optimal solution," Lieberman said. "But if they are not going to act, we will." Lieberman also said some retailers are not doing enough to keep violent material away from kids. "Some of the national chains, including Kmart, Wal-Mart, Sears, Montgomery Ward, Toys-R-Us, Target, and Funcoland have met our requests to adopt standard policies prohibiting the sale of M-rated games. But the rest of the industry has been largely and disappointedly silent, and too many of those who have adopted policies are not enforcing them," Lieberman said.

Hill sources say hearings focusing on the retailers' role in distributing violent materials are possible this spring.

The Senators comments follow a letter from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Max Cleland (D-Ga.), Lieberman and Brownback earlier in the week, which asked the FTC to come out with two reports tracking the industry's efforts. - Paige Albiniak