Ads put on the spot

Org wants Feds to squeeze product placement

WASHINGTON — Watchdog group Commercial Alert wants more honesty in TV advertising, and wants the feds to enforce it.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, the group called on the agencies to require advertisers to disclose less obvious or “embedded” advertising on TV.

Specifically, Commercial Alert, a group that fights insidious commercial advertising, wants TV producers to stop commercial products from casually turning up on shows as a part of a plot or as a prop or backdrop for a scene. Instead of creative programming, the group argues, the shows are beginning to resemble bland infomercials.

“Embedded advertising is the new reality of television, and it is time for the commission to address it,” Commercial Alert topper Gary Ruskin wrote the FCC. “TV networks and stations regularly send programs into American living rooms that are packed with product placements and other veiled commercial pitches. But they pretend these are just ordinary programming rather than paid ads. This is an affront to basic honesty.”

The group wants the FCC to address the issue of embedded advertising in a formal rule-making and to investigate current TV advertising practices and issue new guidelines on product placement.

Ruskin also argues the government should require TV broadcasters to identify product placement as actual ads in real time when they appear.

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