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One of TV’s Most Talked-About Stars Faces Possible FTC Investigation

Aug 19, 2011  •  Post A Comment

A high-profile TV star who is involved in one of the most eagerly anticipated shows of the fall season has come under scrutiny over an unrelated project — a stint as guest editor for an online magazine.

Ashton Kutcher, who made headlines by taking over for Charlie Sheen on CBS’s “Two and a Half Men,” could be questioned by the Federal Trade Commission over his work on an online version of Details magazine, The New York Times reports.

Kutcher failed to disclose his investments in Web companies that were profiled in the magazine’s tech-focused issue called "The Social Issue," the story says. Kutcher has invested in online firms such as Foursquare, Flipboard and Airbnb, which were among the companies profiled in the issue.

“If you’re out there promoting individual products that you have a specific investment in, it needs to be disclosed,” said Richard Cleland, assistant director of the division of advertising practices at the FTC. “If you have a significant economic investment that is not otherwise apparent, that may potentially affect the credibility of your endorsement, and I see that as a potential problem.”

Cleland declined to confirm whether the FTC planned to question either Details or Kutcher, but noted, “A case like this could be investigated," the piece says.

A representative for Kutcher didn’t respond to requests for comment. Details editor-in-chief Dan Peres said, "I stand by how we communicated Ashton’s involvement with some of the companies included in our coverage and remain extremely proud of the work we did on this project.”

A line in the introduction mentions that Kutcher "puts his money where his mouth is, backing many of the companies he champions here," the story says.

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