FCC task force to weigh in on media, obesity


WASHINGTON -- The federal government is preparing to take up the food fight over childhood obesity as the FCC plans to announce a task force investigating the effect media has on what some see as a burgeoning health problem.

On Wednesday, the commission and one of Congress' leading media critics, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., plan to announce the creation of a task force that will investigate any possible links among media, advertising and the expanding waistlines of America's youth.

The task force will be led by Brownback, FCC chairman Kevin Martin and commissioner Deborah Tate. Brownback and the commissioners plan to lay out the task force's charter Wednesday at a Capitol Hill news conference.

Test here for paramount

While the FCC is billing the task force as a joint effort among government, industry and public-interest groups, its current membership consists largely of industry critics. Task force members named so far, other than the commissioners and Brownback, are: Lanier Swann, Beverly LaHaye Institute; Patti Miller, Children Now; Tim Winter, Parents Television Council; and the Walt Disney Co.'s Susan Fox.

The inclusion of Winter could prove particularly troubling for media companies as the PTC has been the most active group filing indecency complaints at the commission. According to commission data, most of the indecency complaints filed at the FCC have been generated by the PTC.

Martin and Tate actively have pushed for increased fines for allegedly indecent speech, with Martin making it a priority at the commission.
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