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‘Hooked on Phonics,’ FTC Reach Accord

The Orange County-based producers of “Hooked on Phonics,” a program designed to help people learn to read, have reached agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges of misleading advertising, “Dateline NBC” reported Tuesday night.

The FTC scheduled a news conference today to announce the charges against Gateway Educational Products in Orange, which owns “Hooked on Phonics,” and the settlement of those charges.

Under the consent decree, the company does not admit wrongdoing but can no longer make claims it can’t prove. If it does, it could be fined up to $10,000 per ad, NBC said.

FTC spokeswoman Bonnie Jansen refused to comment on the charges Tuesday night, citing an agreement with the company that neither side would comment until Wednesday. Calls to the company late Tuesday were not returned.

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Christian White, head of the FTC consumer division, said on NBC that the evidence submitted by the company did not support the claim made in the “Hooked on Phonics” commercials, “that the product was quick and easy to use and would address reading and comprehension problems in many difficult instances, including individuals with learning disorders.”

He also said the information the company had about its products did not support the claim that the typical 6-year-old child could learn to read from the “Hooked on Phonics” program, which cost about $230 and consists of workbooks, flash cards, reading booklets and a set of eight cassette tapes of phonics lessons.


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