May 27, 2012

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and a coalition of other marketing and media groups have urged the United States Senate to oppose a provision that would prohibit colleges and universities which receive federal education funding from spending those federal dollars on any marketing or advertising for their programs. That provision is contained in the FY2013 Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill that was recently approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was sent by The Advertising Coalition (TAC).

Dan Jaffe, ANA Executive Vice President, stated: “We understand that some in the Congress have concerns about the marketing practices of some for-profit colleges and universities. But this provision is overly broad and operates like a meat axe when the precision of a scalpel is required by the First Amendment. There are much more direct and narrowly crafted steps the government could take to address these concerns.”

The TAC Letter states that by barring ALL colleges from using any federal funds for marketing, the provision “would restrict constitutionally protected commercial speech, while failing to correct the asserted problem that certain for-profit colleges and universities encourage students to enroll using government supported tuition without delivering the promised education program.”

Jaffe stated: “The Supreme Court has made it clear that regulating speech must be a last – not first—resort. We hope this restriction on speech will be removed when the full Senate considers the appropriations bill.”

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