A top federal regulator called for a crackdown on product placement and paid product pitches on everything from soap operas to reality shows, saying federal authorities should investigate dubious prac


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A top federal regulator called for a crackdown on product placement and paid product pitches on everything from soap operas to reality shows, saying federal authorities should investigate dubious practices.

"The use of covert commercial pitches is penetrating deeper and deeper into media," said commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission.

It was unclear whether the Republican chairman of the FCC, Kevin Martin, who effectively controls the agency's agenda, shared Adelstein's enthusiasm for tougher vigilance regarding the growing practice of product placement.

Adelstein, speaking to a luncheon audience gathered by the First Amendment think tank the Media Institute, said that "failure to disclose who is behind sponsored programming violates the law."

Although theatrical releases that air on broadcast and cable TV are exempted from disclosing product placements, Adelstein says the hidden pitches come under the nation's payola laws and need "clear and prominent" disclosures.

Adelstein criticized consumer-product reviewers who are covertly paid to mention products; radio DJs who might receive consideration for mentioning products on the air; and "rampant" product placement that puts products onscreen and in the plot lines of TV dramas and other shows.

"There is nothing inherently wrong with product placement -- so long as it is disclosed as required by law," he said.

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