WASHINGTON A top federal regulator on Wednesday called for increased disclosure of product placement and paid product pitches on TV, and said government authorities should investigate dubious practices.
"The use of covert commercial pitches is penetrating deeper and deeper into media," said Jonathan Adelstein, a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission.
It was not clear whether the Republican chairman of the FCC, Kevin Martin, who effectively controls the agency's agenda, shared Adelstein's enthusiasm for tougher vigilance of the growing practice of product placement.
In February, the Federal Trade Commission declined to investigate product placement, saying there was insufficient evidence the practice was misleading consumers.
Adelstein, speaking to a luncheon audience gathered by the First Amendment think tank The Media Institute, said, "failure to disclose who is behind sponsored programming violates the law."
He also criticized consumer-product reviewers who are covertly paid to mention products, radio DJs who may receive consideration for mentioning items on air and "rampant" product placement that puts products on screen and in the plot lines of TV dramas and other shows.
Adelstein called for "clear and prominent" disclosures. "There is nothing inherently wrong with product placement, so long as it is disclosed as required by law," he said.