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LAS VEGAS, NV / WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 19, 2005) –On September 19, Jeffrey D. Knowles, head of the Government Division and the Advertising and Marketing Practice Group at Venable LLP, will assume the role of Chairman of the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), an organization he helped found in 1990.  Since his election in the fall of 2004, Mr. Knowles has served as Chair-elect. He will now assume leadership of the organization at a ceremony to kick off ERA’s annual convention at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, which runs until September 21.

The ERA is the official membership organization for the $296 billion direct response television and electronic retailing industry.  Mr. Knowles has been actively involved with the ERA since its inception, previously serving as its first General Counsel and an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors until September 2002, when he became a full voting member.  Mr. Knowles is also the outgoing chair of the Government Affairs Committee.

“The electronic retailing field is a rapidly growing and diversifying industry.  Over the last few years, we’ve seen large companies, which only a few years ago would not have considered developing electronic marketing campaigns, step out of the shadows to use these proven techniques,”  Mr. Knowles commented.  “The entire industry perspective is changing – successful campaigns now frequently utilize multiple channels of electronic marketing to drive retail and continuity sales.”

As part of the organization’s continued growth, the ERA recently celebrated the first anniversary of its Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP), which is designed to deal with any consumer problems before an issue can rise to a level requiring government intervention.  The program has been well received by association members and the Federal Trade Commission, which has publicly praised the program.

“My primary goals for this year involve increasing the impact the organization has throughout the industry," Mr. Knowles remarked.  “First, I’d like to extend the reach of the ERSP to include back-end marketing practices such as refund and cancellation policies.  I’d also like to increase our member services and benefits for Internet companies and, finally, I’d like to continue to strengthen ERA’s relationships with its European, Latin American, and Asian members.”

ERA’s membership continues to expand and now represents all aspects of electronic retailing.  Major members include the largest television shopping channels – QVC, HSN, and ShopNBC; Internet companies such as eBay and match.com; infomercial companies, including the hugely successful Guthy-Renker Corporation; Internet marketers such as AOL Interactive Marketing; and affinity marketers such as GE Consumer Finance and AEGON Direct Marketing Services.  ERA’s international membership has also grown with member companies from more than 45 countries including Japan’s Fujisankei Communications Group, Germany’s Home Shopping Europe, France’s CanalClub, Colombia’s Televentas SA and The Czech Republic’s TENA.  To serve these worldwide members the ERA also has a European Board of Directors, as well as Latin American and Asian Councils. 

“The ERA membership has grown and developed to include new sales categories and additional methods of marketing, and Venable has seen parallel growth in its advertising practice.  Over the years we have built one of the country’s leading advertising, marketing and consumer protection practices.”  Mr. Knowles continued, “At the beginning, direct response marketing was almost entirely a single-channel medium.  Now marketers have a broad range of channels available, including short form commercials, live shopping, the Internet, and new wireless platforms.  Spurred by the diversification of marketing channels and widespread collection and use of personal consumer data, Venable has expanded its nationally renown consumer protection practice to include, among others, such prominent former government officials and laterals as John Muleta, former chief of the FCC’s wireless bureau, and leading privacy lawyer, Emilio Cividanes, former counsel to the Technology and the Law Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

A photo of Mr. Knowles is available on request.

One of the American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Maryland, New York and Virginia. For more, visit www.Venable.com.