FCC to Scrutinize TV, Radio Product Placement

The increasing use of product placement on TV and radio has caught the attention of the Federal Communications Commission. On Thursday (June 26) the FCC voted unanimously to consider stricter rules for letting viewers know when advertisers have paid for products to appear within programming.

As more consumers use digital video recorders to void commercials, advertisers have turned to other techniques such as product placement to promote their products and services, even integrating products into plot lines. Last year, Nielsen found that the number of placement occurrences in prime time broadcast network programming grew 13 percent.

“As these techniques become increasingly prevalent, there is a growing concern that our sponsorship identification rules might fall short of their ultimate goal: to ensure that the public is able to identify both the commercial nature of any programming, as well as its source,” said Kevin Martin, chairman of the FCC. “I believe it is important for consumers to know when someone is trying to sell them something.”

Current rules require notification at the time of broadcast and usually appear at the beginning or end of a program. The FCC is considering whether the rule should be modified to include real time disclosure, whether the notification should appear more frequently or for a longer time, and whether product placement is appropriate in children’s programming.