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Group protests 'Transformers' toy-film system

PROVIDENCE -- A child advocacy group complained yesterday to the Federal Trade Commission that ads and toys tied to the upcoming "Transformers" movie are aimed at children as young as 2 years old even though the film is rated PG-13.

The Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood called on the commission to work with the toy industry and media companies to develop a uniform rating system so toys tied to PG-13 movies would not be marketed to children younger than 13. It also asked the FTC to investigate the marketing of PG-13 movies to children.

"We are reviewing the letter with great interest," said Jackie Dizdul, a spokeswoman for the commission .

Hasbro spokesman Wayne Charness said in a statement that parents can rely on the existing toy coding and movie rating to decide whether toys and movies are appropriate for their children.

"We believe that we are already taking the necessary steps in keeping the public informed so they can make decisions within the home, as opposed to further government mandates," Charness said.

Representatives of the Toy Industry Association and Paramount, which produced the movie with DreamWorks , had not return requests for comment.

"Transformers," due to be released nationwide July 4 , was rated PG-13 for violence and other content. Hasbro has released dozens of toys related to the film, some for children as young as 3.

"Transformers" is a film that the industry itself deems to be too violent for children under the age of 13," said Susan Linn, a psychologist who cofounded the group. "When the toys and the film have ads during shows that children watch, the message that everyone is getting is, 'Well, it must be fine.' Yet the industry is actually saying that it isn't."