ERA Chairman: Government Affairs Is Top Priority

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MIAMI BEACH, FL -- Jeffrey Knowles, chairman of the Electronic Retailing Association, outlined the organization's 2006 agenda yesterday at the ERA's Mid-Winter Conference & Trade Expo.

Government affairs ranks as the top priority, he said, noting that the association launched a self-regulation program that has reviewed 80 cases in the past few months.

"ERA has always been about standards," he said. "We can police ourselves."

Knowles also reported that the ERA scored an important victory regarding Regulation E, which deals with ATM-fee disclosures by operators of automated teller machines. As a result, members now can accept debit cards in payment for continuity club and other offers. The main issues of ongoing concern, he said, are Net neutrality, streamlined sales tax and privacy.

Knowles listed three strategies that the ERA has adopted: research, education and alliances. The organization has commissioned Forrester Research to perform a study, he said, and the educational focus will involve educating members on other platforms beyond television. ERA also is in the process of establishing alliances with Internet groups such as the Internet Advertising Board.

Knowles is a partner and chair of Advertising, Marketing and New Media Group at Venable LLP, a Washington law firm.

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