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Fat Chance Maybe you’ve seen them. A parade of aging star athletes you vaguely remember from the distant past. They may be far removed from the playing fields of their youth, but they are once again in fighting trim thanks to the latest miracle diet that lets you eat what you want and still lose weight. You’ve seen them, right? Well, so has the Federal Trade Commission, and it is considering more stringent restrictions for their kind of testimonial advertising. Currently, such ads include tiny disclaimers, more or less limited to some version of “results not typical.” The FTC’s potential revisions, though, would require advertisers to provide statistics illustrating more specifically how atypical those results really are. That’s a change DLA Piper has been asked to help fight. The firm maintains that such restrictions would (wait for it) violate the First Amendment rights of its client, NutriSystem Inc. (Or perhaps, the 7/8th Amendment after it drops some unwanted pounds.) DLA Piper is also arguing that the proposed regulations would exceed the FTC’s authority under the law. The possible revisions, the firm says, are appropriate for some weight-loss products, but not ones (such as NutriSystem, presumably) that are “substantiated with competent and reliable scientific evidence as required by law.” Imposing them on NutriSystem, says the firm, would contradict government health recommendations. — Marisa McQuilken
AARP TV Television reception might not have the same public policy gravitas as Medicare or Social Security, says David Certner, head of federal affairs for the AARP. But when his organization makes its rounds on the Hill these days, its concern about the upcoming digital TV conversion comes through loud and clear. Broadcasters and TV consumers will have to abandon analog signals for digital ones before Jan. 1, 2009, and the retiree organization is one of more than a hundred organizations in the digital television transition that are concerned about potential logistical breakdowns in outfitting analog sets with digital converters. Even getting behind bulky TVs to attach the devices will pose a challenge to elderly Americans, Certner says. Given that older Americans tend to have older TVs, and watch them more than five hours a day on average, stumbles in the digital conversion could have political implications, the AARP notes. The worst scenario? If a large number of Americans turn on their sets to find static. Legislators appear to understand what would likely happen next. “This scares me,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing last month at which the AARP testified. “There is no anger that comes close to the anger of an American who can’t get television. I know who they are going to blame.” — Jeff Horwitz
Chamber Made Congress may be in recess, but the lobbying party never stops. Those left stranded and sweltering in town still have issues to press. Count the U.S. Chamber of Commerce among them. The group is using the August doldrums to press its case against legislation that would roll back the Supreme Court’s Ledbetter decision on compensation discrimination claims. They’re meeting with Senate staff, and pushing their members to contact representatives as well. “The August recess is giving us time,” says Michael Eastman, executive director for labor policy for the Chamber. The group says the bill that passed the House in the wake of the high court decision moved too fast, despite their best efforts, and should undergo further review by the more cautious Senate. To that end, they’re meeting with staff of key senators the group views as moderate, even as their bosses are at their summer retreats. — Carrie Levine

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