Cisco TelePresence technology getting exposure on CNBC

Cisco Systems is getting prominent screen time within news programming on the business-news cable channel CNBC, which is using the company’s TelePresence videoconferencing technology live on-air for interviews.

The on-air appearances are worth thousands of dollars in promotional time, according to “Ad Age,” the advertising trade publication, although Cisco is not paying CNBC to use TelePresence screens on-air, said CNBC and NBC Universal executives.

CNBC is leasing the equipment for its editorial and technology operations teams. The involvement doesn’t affect CNBC’s business coverage, news executives added. If Cisco becomes part of a story, CNBC will report on the company and suspend on-air use of its products.

In spite of those precautions, “Ad Age” noted the deal suggests a blurring of the lines between news coverage and advertising. Cisco’s pact shows the lengths to which marketers will go as they attempt to creep into what is perhaps the last TV genre to keep them at bay: news programming.

Cisco’s technology and brand name are appearing in CNBC programming, for example, as part of a business deal under which CNBC uses the equipment at favorable terms in recognition of the exposure Cisco is getting. At the end of every news segment featuring a TelePresence interview, viewers see an on-screen “billboard” telling them “promotional consideration has been provided by Cisco.”

For decades, TV news shows have disallowed marketers who wanted to insert their pitches into independently produced content. With the economics of media in flux, however, more media outlets have allowed rules to bend.