The Federal Trade Commission yesterday said the Public Relations Society of America has agreed to stop interfering with the way its members set their fees or arrange fees from clients.
The agency said its staff had drawn up a proposed complaint against the 8,400-member trade association for the public relations industry contending that its code of professional standards "restricts members from using contingent fee arrangements anf from soliciting from other members' clients.
It said such restrictions violated the FTC act "because they interfere with fees members charge for services, suppress price competition among members, restrain competition in the industry, raise barriers to the entry of new public relations practitioners and deprive clients of the benefits of free and open competition."
The association signed a consent order agreeing to drop the practices and also to publish the order in its national newsletter.
The consent order is for settlement purposes only and is not an admission by the society that it violated the law.
In a statement issued in New York, the society said the federal agency "has in effect, approved the actions" taken by the organization in April to comply with the FTC's appraisal of its professional code.
It said that, while many members do not agree, with the FTC position, the society decided at that time that its course of action would be "cooperative compliance."
The complaint against the public relations society is part of the FTC's on-going program to prohibit professional associations from fixing prices and restricting competition. The commission said the public relations society consent agreement would be open for public comment through Oct. 17.