May 27, 2005
Adelstein Calls for Product Placement Crackdown
FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is keeping an eye peeled for product placement. He told a group gathered for a recent Media Institute event that undisclosed payments for product placement violates current FCC law.
Adelstein talked about how more and more people who are interviewed on the tube as "experts" are often paid shills. He spoke about a TV chef to received $550,000 from a frozen shrimp outfit for saying something to the effect of, "fresh is not as fresh as frozen."
Covert commercial pitches are showing up deeper and deeper in media, he said, and he's calling on viewers to "record this kind of thing.
"Disclosure doesn't infringe on the First Amendment rights that the Media Institute holds so dear," he said. The same requirement to disclose the source of Video News Releases also applies to product placement, he said. This disclosure obligation applies "up and down the chain of production and distribution."
"Broadcasters have an affirmative legal duty to do reasonable diligence," he said. "Ignorance may be a violation."
Violations can net a fine of up to $10,000 and up to a year in prison.
Adelstein said he would also like to ban interactive TV ads for children. The FCC has opened no investigations to address product placement or kiddie T-commerce, but that each could be included on the open public interest docket.