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Should Product Placement Be Disclosed to Viewers?

I tend to just roll my eyes when I see blatant product placement on TV, like The New York Times' example of Simon, Paula, and Randy sipping on Cokes during episodes of American Idol. But the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) is a bit more sensitive about the issue and is wondering if networks should be required to explicitly disclose product placement.

F.C.C. commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein commented, "We’re not saying they can’t do it — we’re just saying they have to let the audience know what they’re doing." The F.C.C. is considering mandating that brand names appear at the beginning or end of a show, but critics say that this type of interference would take away from a show's entertainment value.

Some advertisers consider themselves "junior writers" because the high level of integration some products achieve goes far beyond the characters' fashion choices. The Times informs us that two episodes of The Office were written around a Staples scanner in order to promote the brand. But as long as the writing quality doesn't suffer, does it matter the show is marketing a product? Would it make a difference to you if these arrangements were disclosed?


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