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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 9, September 2010, Posted On: 9/9/2010

FTC Probes Chuck E. Cheese's Marketing To Kids

Marcus Webb
CEC Entertainment Inc., Chuck E. Cheese's, Chuck E. Cheese, childhood obesity, FTC, Jon Leibowitz, Burger King, Coca-Cola, arcade, coin-op news, amusement business

WASHINGTON -- CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of the Chuck E. Cheese's chain, was one of 48 national food and beverage companies to receive a subpoena in late August from the Federal Trade Commission.

The agency is investigating whether the targeted companies are improperly marketing to children. Subjects of the probe, including such well-known brands as Burger King and Coca-Cola, will be required to provide information by Nov. 1 regarding relevant marketing campaigns.

According to sources, the investigation is tied into federal government's broader efforts to combat childhood obesity.

A spokeswoman for the FTC division that oversees advertising practices and consumer protection said the current probe is a part of a 2008 investigation "to measure the effects of self-regulation." During a speech late last year, FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz singled out CEC among several other companies for their alleged failure to "make a commitment" to responsible marketing practices.

FTC officials said the agency supports industry self-policing and voluntary compliance with federal laws, so additional regulation or Congressional hearings are unlikely. The FTC's findings will be made public, said the agency.

CEC officials are expected to comment after they have reviewed the subpoena.

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