Martin Proposes Inquiry Into Product Placement Policies

Nov 29, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin is proposing his agency vote in December to open a formal inquiry into the adequacy of product placement disclosures. Also on the docket is whether changes in FCC rules are needed in light of growing integration of product branding messages into programming.
A vote on the inquiry is part of the tentative agenda for the full meeting of FCC commissioners Dec. 18. That meeting already is slated to consider a change in media-ownership rules that could let newspapers and broadcasters buy each other, at least in the top 20 markets, and rule changes that could allow TV stations to lease one of their multicast signals to minority broadcasters.
FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has questioned the growth in product placement taking place on TV; he and consumer groups have called for the FCC to do more to ensure such placement is disclosed. Current FCC rules require disclosure at the end of broadcasts, a time when local stations regularly cut in with local announcements that often shrink or overlay closing credits, including the disclosures.
According to one FCC source, Mr. Martin’s proposal will offer few specifics, instead citing examples of the kind of integration taking place and asking whether current disclosure rules are adequate or need changing.
In September, speaking at the opening of an FCC media ownership hearing in Chicago, Mr. Martin cited questions raised at an earlier hearing about increasing product placement.
He noted the FCC had heard concerns that the networks, worried that digital video recorders and TiVos are being used to skip commercials, were moving to product integration as an alternative.
“Networks may be turning to more subtle and sophisticated means of incorporating commercial messages into traditional programming. As these techniques become increasingly prevalent, there is a growing concern that our sponsorship identification rules fall short of their ultimate goal: to ensure that the public is able to identify both the commercial nature of the programming as well as its source,” Mr. Martin said at the time. “I believe it is important for consumers to know when someone is trying to sell them something, and that it is appropriate for the commission to examine these issues.”
He said then that a proposed rule-making would seek comment on “the relationship between the commission’s sponsorship identification rules and increasing industry reliance on embedded advertising techniques.”
Commercial Alert in 2003 asked both the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission to require advertisers and TV networks to show the word “advertisement” whenever product placement or integration is seen. FTC staff in 2005 rejected the petition, saying any instances of placement not being adequately disclosed should be treated on a case-by-case basis, but the FCC never acted.
Ad groups said Thursday that no changes are warranted to existing FCC rules.
“There is quite a bit of misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding the very term ‘product placement,’” said Adonis Hoffman, general counsel of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
“Today, the opportunities for advertisers to advance brands in multiple media platforms and formats are not limited to what we all grew up with. But just because there are new forms does not mean there is something inherently sinister going on. It goes against logic for any advertiser to hide its message, no matter where or how it appears.
“The fact that a product appears embedded in noncommercial content should not be cause for alarm, provided there is ample opportunity during the credits for acknowledgement,” he said.


  1. Well the wackos are at it again! So what if a “product placement” occurs? Is anybody damaged in any way by this? Of course not. The public couldn’t care less if a bottle of Coke is sitting on someone’s table. Come on! There is plenty of other stuff to go after, including all the foul language; things that do have a deleterious effect on young viewers.
    Why is everybody suddenly pushing homosexuality, for example?
    There is plenty of room for complaint on TV, but even in the old movies, it occurred; not to mention on radio. In my day some writers got a small fee for writing product names into scripts. So what? How can that ‘damage’ anyone?

  2. I would like to start my own blog one day. This was a really nice blog that you made here. Keep up the success 😛

  3. Great blog!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned 🙂

  4. Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here 🙂

  5. I just want to emphasize the good work on this blog, has excellent views and a clear vision of what you are looking for.

  6. Took me moment in time to look at every of the comments, except I in reality enjoyed the editorial. It proved being in reality cooperative to me plus I am constructive to all the commenters here! It’s commonly pleasant whenever you be able to not just be informed, but in addition entertained! I am positive you had pleasurable writing this write-up.

Your Comment

Email (will not be published)