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Coalition Letter to FCC on Embedded Ads

Coalition Letter to FCC on Embedded Ads

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Published by Josh Stearns
Fairness and Integrity in Telecommunications Media
Health, Media, and Child Advocates
Supporting FCC Regulation of Embedded Advertising
Fairness and Integrity in Telecommunications Media
Health, Media, and Child Advocates
Supporting FCC Regulation of Embedded Advertising

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Published by: Josh Stearns on Oct 06, 2011
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10/06/2011

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Fairness and Integrity in Telecommunications Media
 Health, Media, and Child AdvocatesSupporting FCC Regulation of Embedded Advertising
September 23, 2009The Honorable Julius GenachowskiChairman, Federal Communications Commission445 12
th
Street SWWashington, D.C. 20554RE:
 Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Matter of Sponsorship Identification Rules and Embedded Advertising
, Docket 08-90Dear Mr. Chairman:As public advocacy organizations and professionals, we congratulate you on yourappointment to the chairmanship of the Federal Communications Commission. Visionaryleadership at the FCC has never been more vital to the American people.Regarding the above-referenced
 Notice
(“NOI/NPRM”), we wish to call your attention tothe importance of this proceeding, and to update the Commission on significantdevelopments since the reply period ended in November, 2008.
 Embedded advertising
refers to commercial speech that is woven into programcontent in exchange for fees or other consideration
.
1
Research suggests that adultsmay interpret paid-for branded content as artistic choices, or as signs of increasingcommercialism in society, when in fact it is advertising.
2
Research further indicates thatchildren are particularly vulnerable to covert marketing, and are heavily influenced byembedded messages, even though – or perhaps because – they don’t recognize thematerial as advertising.
3
 
1
Federal Communications Commission.
 Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Matter of Sponsorship Identification Rules and Embedded Advertising,
MB Docket 08-90, at 1 and notes1 & 2 (released 26 Jun 2008) (“Notice”).
2
Cristel Antonia Russell,
 Investigating the Effects of Product Placements in Television Shows: The Role of  Modality and Plot Connection Congruence on Brand Memory and Attitude
, 29 JOURNAL OFCONSUMER RESEARCH 307, 314 (2002).
3
 
Sandra L. Calvert,
Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing
, 18 THE FUTURE OFCHILDREN 205 (2008); Auty & Lewis,
 Exploring Children’s Choice: The Reminder Effect of Product Placement 
, 21 PSYCHOL. & MARKETING 697, 710 (2004); M. Brucks, G.M. Armstrong & M.E.Goldberg,
Children’s Use of Cognitive Defenses Against Television Advertising: A Cognitive Response Approach
, 14 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RES. 471 (1988).
 
 2
 The NOI/NPRM evokes a principle long recognized by Congress and the FCC:people have a right to know when, and by whom, they are being sold something.
Under existing rules, Sponsorship Identification disclosures are difficult to read,confusingly worded, and buried in the end credits where they are ineffective.
4
Non-origination cable and satellite networks are not subject to Sponsorship Identificationrules.
5
Therefore, it is necessary to amend/extend existing rules in order to
adequatelyinform
consumers when program content is induced by consideration.
Regarding youth, we applaud your stated interest in protecting children frominappropriate media content.
6
 
In an era when content providers are turning to subtleand sophisticated product integration techniques,
7
we encourage the Commission tocodify existing policies that prohibit embedded advertising in children’s programming
8
and to clarify that the rule(s) apply to broadcast, cable and satellite television. In addition,there is concern that millions of children and adolescents who do not (or cannot) readand/or grasp the significance of Sponsorship Identification disclosures are exploited bythe inherently deceptive and harmful nature of embedded ads during primetime hours.When the product
itself 
is potentially unhealthful, harmful or addictive, such as junk food, alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceutical drugs, gambling or weapons, the deceptive natureof embedded advertising poses additional serious risks to public health. Similarly,embedded ads in newscasts and Video News Releases (VNR’s) represent conflicts of interest that can only be remedied by
effective
Sponsorship Identification disclosures –vital to ethical journalism.
The attached “Update” provides evidence of the increasing penetration andsophistication of embedded advertising since the NOI/NPRM ended in November.
 Advertisers are not only altering program content, they often
create it 
without theaudience’s awareness. Importantly, research indicates that
awareness
 
of the intent to persuade
is a key factor in resistance to persuasion.
9
 Congressmen Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) have warnedthat embedded advertising is “unfair and deceptive if it occurs without adequate
4
For a review of research on the ineffectiveness of warning someone after the fact that material lackscredibility or may be biased,
see
G.T. Kumkale & D. Albarracin,
The sleeper effect in persuasion: ameta-analytic review.
130-1 PSYCHOLOGICAL BULLETIN 143-72 (2004).
5
 
 Notice
at 11.
6
Julius Genachowski,
Statement of Chairman Julius Genachowski Re: Implementation of the Child SafeViewing Act: Examination of Parental Control Technologies for Video or Audio Programming,
FederalCommunications Commission, MB Docket 09-26 (31 Aug 2009).
7
 
 Notice
at 1.
8
 
See
Children’s Television Act of 1990, 47 USC § 303a (2000); 47 C.F.R. § 76.225 (2007)
;
Children’sTelevision Report and Policy Statement 
, 50 FCC 2d 1 (1974)
.
 
9
 
See
R. Petty. & J. Cacioppo,
Forewarning, cognitive responding, and resistance to persuasion
, 35JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY 645-55 (1977); R. Petty & J. Cacioppo,
 Effects of forewarning of persuasive intent and involvement on cognitive responses and persuasion,
5PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN 173-6 (1979).[Dr. Richard Petty is a signatory on this letter.]
 
 3disclosure to the viewing public.”
10
Former FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin (R) statedupon initiating the NOI/NPRM: “I believe it is important for consumers to know whensomeone is trying to sell them something and that it is appropriate for the Commission toexamine these issues.”
11
 The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently proposed rules requiring disclosure of embedded ads in online media under its truth-in-advertising guidelines.
12
In a publicstatement, Richard Cleland, an assistant director at the FTC’s Division of AdvertisingPractices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, said: “Consumers have a right to know whenthey’re being pitched a product.”
13
 
We strongly urge the Commission to exercise its full authority to amend/extendexisting rules governing embedded advertising practices, in order to ensure fulltransparency for the adult consumer and codified protection for youth.
Yourleadership in this matter will determine whether TV and radio programs become conduitsfor stealth and misleading commercial propaganda; or whether media integrity, vital in ademocratic society, will be preserved.Respectfully submitted,
Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME)
 
Robert McCannon, Co-president2808 El Tesoro Escondido NWAlbuquerque, NM 87120www.acmecoalition.org
 
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists
Ginger Anthony, Executive Director3615 Wisconsin Ave. NWWashington, DC 20016-3077www.aacap.org
American Academy of Pediatrics
David. T. Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP, President141 Northwest Point Blvd.Elk Grove Village, IL, 60007www.aap.org
10
Edward Markey and Henry Waxman, Letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (26 Sept 2007).
11
Kevin Martin, Public Statement, Federal Communications Commission Hearing, Chicago, Illinois,(20 Sept 2007)
12
Pradnya Joshi,
 Approval by a Blogger May Please a Sponsor,
NEW YORK TIMES (12 Jul 2009).
See also
Direct Agents, Inc.,
 Bloggers Beware: FTC to Monitor Paid Posts and Affiliate Links
,
 
(23 Jun 2009).
 
13
Joshi
.

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