Infomercial marketers, under the banner of the Electronic Retailing Association, on Monday announced a new self-regulatory program.

This undertakes to expel member companies that advertise false claims. Furthermore, the ERA will send transgressors' dossiers to the Federal Trade Commission for investigation.

The move is certainly not triggered by falling sales -- currently in orbital velocity -- but by the fear of government regulatory action. The ERA clearly believes that snake-oil practitioners like Advanced Patch Technologies cannot continue to get away with outrageous claims without provoking federal intervention against the entire industry.

APT hucksters weight-loss patches on cable-TV with the promise: "Every three days peel off the patch and watch as you take off the pounds. Replace with a new patch and drop more pounds. It's that easy."

Of the new code of practice, ERA president/ceo Barbara Tulipane says: "Our members demanded it. It's very hard to compete with outlandish claims."

Under the ERA plan, complaints about misleading infomercials, online ads et al will be referred to an independent review board at the National Advertising Review Council, a coalition of advertising trade associations and the Council of Better Business Bureaux.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff