In Fall 2002, the Federal Trade Commission held a Workshop exploring the problem of misleading weight-loss promotional pitches. After the agency spent decades cleaning up deceptive advertising, the weight-loss industry continues to be replete with such tactics. In an attempt to more aggressively attack those deceptions, the FTC used the Workshop as a forum to suggest that media should play a more active role in screening ads for diet products and programs. Some saw this as an implied threat that the agency may begin holding media liable for publishing those ads. Media protest that this forces them into the de facto role of regulators, and could create a chilling effect, leading fearful media to censor speech that is not deceptive. This article explores the FTC's legal authority and the constitutional viability of making media responsible for the role they play in delivering these deceptive weight-loss messages to the public and finds no obstacles in the agency's path.
Chester S. Galloway, Herbert J. Rotfeld & Jef I. Richards,
Holding Media Responsible for Deceptive Weight-Loss Advertising,
W. Va. L. Rev.
Available at: https://researchrepository.wvu.edu/wvlr/vol107/iss2/4