The growing movement to limit or prohibit certain types of advertising has put federal regulatory agencies "on a collision course with the First Amendment," a leading broadcasting industry spokesman said yesterday.
In a speech to the Advertising Club of Washington, Vincent T. Wasilewski, president of the National Association of Broadcaster, attacked regulatory proposals pending before the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies.
"Today, we find a variety of federal agencies dealing with regulatory problems that raise very serious First Amendment questions as they relate to the business side of broadcasting and the press," Wasilewki said.
"High on the list, of course, is the FTC, because those visions of sugar plums and candy canes will not be with us if the FTC has its way and bans such things as avertising to those under 8 years of age."
Wasilewski criticized several other pending regulations including one that would ban broadcast commercials for any products containing saccharin, "unless they want to carry a 'commercial' devoted in its entirety to describing the helath hazards of saccharin products.
A ban on "institutional and promotional advertising" by airlines and electric and gas companies, which passthe costs for such advertising on to consumers, also was ridiculed by Wasilewski.
He also assailed FTC attempts to force over the counter drug advertisements to use warning information scripted by the Food & Drug Administratiion for the Drugs' labels.
"Specifically," Wasilewski said, "the law simply states that drug labellings shall 'not be false and misleading,' in any respect. Nevertheless, under the FDA view, the exact words must be used in OTC drug labels, and the use of any different words-not matter be-would be, under the FDA view, a federal offense."
Wasilewski pointed out that during last year's FTC hearing on drug advertising, the agency, in an attempt to back up its argument that the exact words must be used, produced two expert witnessese "who testified profoundly, and at great length, that synonymous words really do not exist."
"There is actually no such thing as synonymy," Wasilewski quoted one of the experts as saying. That view, he added, was supported by the second expert, who used the word "synonymity," instead of "synonymy."
Then Wasilewski referred to the transcript of the hearing for the following exchange:
"Question: You used the word "synonymity" in your statement, whereas Dr. Fillmore used the word "synonmy." Are these words synonymous?"
"Answer: I haven't collected any data on those. They sound quite close in meaning. . . I am an expert in language, not how it is used in the meaning of specific words."