Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Auto Dealers May Face Tougher Advertising Rules

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Auto Dealers May Face Tougher Advertising Rules

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By Bill May New motor vehicle dealers in Oklahoma soon may face stiffer requirements for advertising if a proposed rules change is approved.

The Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Commission, meeting in Oklahoma City Tuesday, began the formal process of changing Rule 17 of the commission's rules and regulations. That rule deals with advertising the retail sales of new motor vehicles in all media.

A public hearing is scheduled for July 10 in the auditorium of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, 1801 Lincoln Blvd. Notices of the meeting, as well as copies of the proposed new rule, will be sent to all licensed new motor vehicle dealers in the state, according to Noel Kruger, the commission's executive director.

Suggested changes can be submitted in writing to the commission before the hearing date or can be submitted during the public hearing, said commission attorney John Rothman.

The formal process of changing the rule is expected to take between 12 and 18 months, Rothman said.

Commissioners have been considering changes in advertising rules and regulations since 1989 but rejected a proposed new rule in September 1989 after a six month study. At that time, it was felt that existing rules covered everything in the proposed changes, Chairman Jack Clark said.

However, the new proposed rule defines certain aspects of print advertising to make things more easily understood by both the dealer and the consumer. It also states that the burden of proof of innocence is upon the advertising dealer.

Certain leading statements in advertising will be "presumptively false and misleading and the burden of proving otherwise shall rest on the advertiserlicensee," the document reads.

That language was inserted, to remove the word "prohibited," Rothman said, to prevent any challenges alleging violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allows freedom of the press.

Such statements as "write your own deal," "name your own price," or "name your own monthly payments," will fit into the "presumptively false" category, the document reads. Other statements which imply no one will be turned down because of credit also fit into that category, unless everyone is offered credit, regardless of previous history.

Requirements for disclosure statements, and size of such statements, in print advertising also is more restrictive under the proposed rule than are federal regulations.

"We want to go beyond Rule M (of federal statutes) to protect the consumer," said Commissioner Mike Johnson of Kingfisher. …

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