SHORT TAKES : Infomercial Trade Assn. Formed

From Times Wire Services

Makers of infomercials, the program-length commercials of off-hour TV, announced the creation of their industry's first trade association Thursday, hoping to reduce regulators' scrutiny and ease consumers' fears.

"It gives us legitimacy in the eyes of Capitol Hill and consumers, and it establishes us as a long-term industry," said Greg Renker, whose Palm Desert-based Guthy-Renker Corp. markets self-help and motivational courses.

The "infomerchants" will be known as the National Infomercial Marketing Assn. and will work with Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to develop advertising standards for the industry, Renker said.

The industry, born in the mid-'80s, has attracted widespread publicity and thousands of consumer complaints about false and deceptive advertising, especially concerning infomercials that pose as talk shows and news specials.

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