We've Got Hollywood Covered

Consumer Groups to FCC: Fix Product Placement

Viewers need to know when program content is induced by financial consideration.

Warning that product placement in TV shows is increasing, a coalition of consumer groups Thursday is urging the Federal Communications Commission to move forward in limiting it.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the groups suggest that identification of the sponsors is not clear to viewers because the identification is “buried” in closing credits and difficult to read.

FCC rules need to be amended “to adequately inform consumers when program content is induced by consideration,” said the letter from Fairness and Integrity in Telecommunications Media.


Members of the group include Consumer’s Union, Commercial Alert, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, Morality in Media, Public Citizen and The Salvation Army.

The letter suggested embedded ads can be for harmful or potentially addictive products, bypass industry ad codes or parental guidelines.

“At a minimum, the FCC must set a standard for transparency and public accountability by enacting and vigorously enforcing effective sponsorship identification rules and protection for youth.”

The groups cite a study from TNS Media Intelligence that product placement increased 19 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

The FCC under former chairman Kevin Martin launched an examination of product placement last year, in a move seen as a nod to then FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein’s concerns about the practice. Both Martin and Adelstein have since left the FCC commission, leaving the status of the proceeding in doubt.

The consumer groups want the FCC to move forward, despite the departures.
Both advertisers and TV networks in comments filed in the proceedings have questioned the need for new rules.