Advertisers to FCC: ‘Slow Down’

NEW YORK In an 11th-hour bid to thwart an eventual Federal Communications Commission ruling on product placement, the three main U.S. advertising trade associations have sent a letter to the commission urging it to reconsider issuing a notice of proposed rule making on embedded advertising.

The FCC is expected to vote Tuesday on whether it will proceed with the notice at its scheduled meeting, during which it will also vote on chairman Kevin Martin’s plan to ease media ownership rules.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies, the American Advertising Federation and the Association of National Advertisers are pushing the FCC for a notice of inquiry, which is designed to gather information about a subject as a means of generating ideas.

“The issues implicated by this proceeding are varied and complex, including such things as current practices of product placement and integration, the significant economic implications for free media, the extent of the commission’s statutory and constitutional authority and sound public policy considerations,” stated the groups’ letter, which was sent Friday.

“Accordingly, we believe that the commission’s consideration of these issues would benefit from having a fact-gathering proceeding first to determine whether problems exist before fashioning a regulatory solution,” the groups said.

The letter described the Federal Trade Commission’s decision in 2005 not to take action with regard to product placement following a protest by the consumer advocacy group Commercial Alert as “instructive.” Adonis Hoffman, svp and legal counsel for the American Association of Advertising Agencies, said Monday that the trade associations had not heard back from the FCC.