FCC's 4K VNR hit begins to mushroom


The FCC’s designated VNR specialist Jonathan Adelstein (D) has expressed his satisfaction with the 4K fine levied against Comcast for broadcast of an unidentified VNR (which Comcast is said to be appealing), as have the watchdogs responsible for the original complaint. Both have called for more of the same. It only took another day for these sentiments to register on Capitol Hill, although the topic isn’t specifically VNRs. Key House members Ed Markey (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) have fired off a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (R) on the related topic of product placement. "In our view," they said, "the blurring of the line between advertising and content represented by product placement and integration is unfair and deceptive if it occurs without adequate disclosures to the viewing public. In some extreme cases, it may also undermine the integrity of the television programming itself."

Markey held a hearing on the topic last May, and noted that the practice was on the increase in television due to the increase of DVR-enabled commercial skipping. "As the use of product placement and product integration in television expand, broadcasters and cable operators should comply in a meaningful way with their statutory obligation to identify what entity is behind sponsored programming and what product is being pitched."

They commended Martin for planning a proceeding to look into the matter, and suggested he get on with it with all due haste.

RBR/TVBR observation: This may have a slight effect on radio, where host-voiced commercials have long been a staple. It is usually obvious that the host is doing a commercial, but script writers will have to make sure it’s obvious (as will an ad-libbing host). On the television side, we will not be surprised if television shows soon include a list of placed products and the sponsors paying to place them along with the traditional credits — and we suspect legislators will demand they scroll by slowly enough for below-average readers to make sense of them. You read it here first.