FCC Chair to Push for Inquiry into Product Placement Rules

It has been reported that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin will ask the Commission to begin a formal examination of the agency's current disclosure rules for product placement in television programming.  Chairman Martin is expected to include a formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on that matter on the agenda for the next meeting of the Commission, which is scheduled for December 18th.

Chairman Martin and FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein have both been critical of product placement and argued that the FCC's current disclosure rules are not adequate to inform viewers that "promotional consideration" has been paid to the program's producers.  In September, Congressman Ed Markey, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Congressman Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wrote a joint letter to Chairman Martin urging a new rulemaking on product placement.

Several years ago, the advocacy group Commercial Alert filed a complaint with the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking for major new disclosures for product placement, including a requirement for a "pop up" to appear on the TV screen whenever a product appeared during a program.  ANA filed comments with both agencies arguing that the current disclosure rules are adequate to inform viewers.  The FTC rejected the Commercial Alert complaint but the FCC never took any formal action on it.

We will closely follow the developments in this area.  If you have any questions or comments about this matter, please contact Dan Jaffe in ANA's Washington, DC office at djaffe@ana.net or (202) 296-1883.