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Field Reports

1 Aug, 2008 By: Thomas Haire, Jacqueline Renfrow Response

FCC Takes Another Look at Product Placement Rules

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it will review rules on how U.S. television programmers may display commercial products in shows. The discussed tightening of rules would require producers to let viewers know when a product appears in a show that it was paid for.

"TiVos and digital video recorders now allow viewers to more easily skip through commercials. Due in part to these technological developments, networks may be turning to more subtle and sophisticated means of incorporating commercial messages into traditional programming," FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin said in a statement. "As these become increasingly prevalent, there is a growing concern that our sponsorship identification rules may fall short of their ultimate goal: to ensure that the public is able to identify both the commercial nature of programming as well as its source."

Current rules require that programmers have to disclose sponsors, but it's usually done during the credits. Under stricter ruling, sponsorship notices would have to be written in bigger print and displayed for a defined period.

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein was one of the proponents to push for a revision of the rules, mainly due to the examination of children's advertising. He said that parents are concerned about the unhealthy messages the media are feeding children. It appears that as technology for skipping commercials and watching television in other venues advances, more and more logos and endorsements are being pushed by producers during television programs.

In first-quarter 2008, prime-time in-show product appearances rose 6 percent for measured broadcast and cable networks, according to Nielsen. Broadcast TV placements rose 39 percent while cable placements fell 1 percent. During the top 10 broadcast programs, there were 15,404 product appearances during the first three months, compared with 8,893 in 1Q 2007.

Candidates Turning To MTV and Online for Youth Vote

NEW YORK — A study released by PR agency Waggener Edstrom Worldwide shows that the youth vote is turning away from traditional media and turning toward the Internet, reported

The report says that 64 percent of 18- to 35-year-olds are relying on digital communications to get information on this year's election because it's the easiest way to access information. And about 76 percent prefer online sources to traditional news sources because the respondents feel that traditional sources tend to control and shape the information. In favor of traditional media, 38 percent voted that they have more confidence in its content while only 30 percent had more confidence in Internet content.

"That is the death knell for traditional media among this demographic," says Derek LaVallee, vice president, U.S. public affairs practice at Waggener Edstrom. "We're seeing a shift from that model of one message to many people to many messages to one person, and that's a huge paradigm shift we're just starting to pick up now."

When asked which political party seemed to be doing the best job utilizing the Internet for campaigning, 56 percent chose the Democratic Party and 13 percent chose the Republican Party.

In a similar effort to engage younger voters, Viacom's MTV Networks (MTVN) will allow political advertising for the first time since its inception in 1981. Although the network has previously encouraged its viewers to get out and vote, or "Choose or Lose," this will be the first time candidates — not just third parties — will be allowed to buy ads.

"Given where we are in the election cycle, and how the youth vote has increasingly engaged and played a crucial role in past presidential elections, we re-evaluated the MTV policy and decided that campaignapproved ads would be a good first for our audience, and would compliment our 'Choose or Lose' campaign efforts," says Jeannie Kedas, executive vice president, communications for MTV's music networks. "It's a good thing when candidates want to reach out to young people and the best way to do that is through MTV."

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