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Statement of FCC Chairman William E. Kennard

American Advertising Federation News Conference
Washington, D.C.
April 21, 1999

I would like to commend the advertising industry including major advertisers as well as the ad agency community for listening to reports about advertising placement bias against minority-owned media outlets and minority audiences and then doing something about it.

Today, we see evidence of the wisdom of the adage that the best way to deal with a business problem is to develop a business solution.

I salute True North Communications, one of the largest advertising agency in the world, for adopting as part of its own business plan the principles that many of us have been talking about as guidelines for fair advertising practices: ensuring fair access to information; promoting fair competition; and expanding opportunity for all Americans.

True North is putting these principles into action by forming a new venture with its three minority-owned advertising agencies to provide ethnic media planning and buying services to advertisers.

In addition to True North, large advertisers are also responding with business solutions. For instance, Pepsi-Cola recently announced a 10%-15% increase in their advertising on black radio stations and BellSouth announced a 1999 advertising campaign to celebrate the historic contributions of minorities to our nation.

Also today, the American Advertising Federation is moving forward on its commitment to create a blue ribbon panel on values and principles, called the Business Practices Review Committee, that will study and recommend specific business plan models for advertisers and agencies alike to implement to insure that they do not discriminate in making advertising decisions.

AAF played a critical role in convening a conference in New York February 22 this winter where industry leaders discussed the FCC study, released in January on the subject. These AAF discussions have become a springboard for industry action. I especially thank Wally Snyder and Heide Gardner for their leadership on this issue.

The Fairness in Communications principles being adopted by True North today reflect the very principles that our overall democracy is built on: Fair access to information - information about marketplace demographic and buying decisions:

It is in no company's business interest to make advertising decisions based on outdated demographic information or stereotyped assumptions about minorities' purchasing power.

I commend these companies, AAF, AAAA and the advertising industry. I applaud David Bell of True North Communications, Micheal Drexler of TN Media and Al Schreiber of the New America Strategies Group for putting business muscle behind these Fairness in Communications principles and showing business and community leadership. They are setting an example that can be a model for the industry.

Thank you.