Pol to H'wood: Do more to clear air

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The motion picture studios will have to tell Congress whether they are willing to put anti-smoking ads on DVDs and certify that they aren't taking any money for product placement of tobacco products or risk the ire of one of the House's most prominent lawmakers.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., pushed MPAA chief Dan Glickman to survey trade group members and make a report on his findings to the telecommunications and Internet subcommittee on Tuesday. Markey chairs the committee and is one of most knowledgeable and respected lawmakers working on media issues. He authored the V-chip law and the Children's Television Act.

During a hearing Friday on the impact of media images on children, Markey pushed the studios and theater owners to do more to curb or counter images of smoking on the silver screen.

While Glickman defended the industry, there was little he could do but agree to survey the studios about the issue. "To the best of my knowledge, none of our companies are responsible for taking paid product placement for tobacco products in our motion pictures," he testified.

But Glickman's words and an offer to have representatives of the studios explain to Markey what they were doing to make smoking less attractive failed to pacify the lawmaker.

"Could you survey the companies you represent and report back to the subcommittee, and identify which companies are willing to and which are not willing to put the PSAs on their DVDs?" Markey asked.

Pushing Glickman to do even more, Markey said he wants to ensure that none of the major motion picture studios take cash for tobacco placements.

It wasn't just smoking that raised Markey's ire: He also wants the government to do something to reduce the number of empty calories on TV, saying he was prepared to have the FCC write a rule on the subject. And, on Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee plans to take up violent content.
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