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Group wants on-air disclosure of TV product placement

WASHINGTON - An American lobby group wants the government there to force all broadcasters to prominently disclose every product placement in their television shows, meaning broadcasters would have to identify every Pepsi can, Doritos bag and Chevy Suburban as something an advertiser paid to get on television.

The group, Commercial Alert, yesterday asked the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission "to require prominent disclosure of embedded advertising on television, including product placement, product integration, plot placement, title placement, paid spokespersons and virtual advertising. Increasingly, programs with these embedded ads resemble infomercials," said a press release.

Commercial Alert's petition to the FCC contains a request for a new rule that would require conspicuous and concurrent disclosure of embedded ads on TV. It says TV networks have failed to comply with federal sponsorship identification requirements, and it wants an investigation of current product placement practices on TV. Commercial Alert also asked the FTC to investigate TV product placement practices, and to issue new guidelines for disclosure of TV product placement.

"Embedded advertising is the new reality of television, and it is time for the Commission to address it. 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 that these are just ordinary programming rather than paid ads. This is an affront to basic honesty," says the Commercial Alert petition to the FCC.

"To prevent stealth advertising, and ensure that viewers are fully aware of the efforts of advertisers to embed ads in programming, the Commission should require TV networks and stations to prominently disclose to viewers that their product placements are ads. In addition, product placements should be identified when they occur."

Commercial Alert is an American nonprofit organization "whose mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy," it says.

It claims more than 2000 members, representing all 50 states.

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