Experts who tout products on daytime television talk shows are frequently paid by the products' manufacturers for their endorsement -- despite FCC rules barring such paid recommendations without disclosure, the Washington Post observed today (Wednesday). The Post cited the case of Alison Rhodes, who is often introduced as a "safety mom" and touts products promoting child safety. But while Rhodes insists that she will not "take on any engagement with a client unless I believe in their product," the FCC rule on the matter is clear -- the endorser must disclose the relationship with the client to the broadcaster, and the broadcaster must disclose it to the audience. Failure to do so carries a fine of up to $10,000 and a one-year prison sentence. "In practice, however, the law is rarely enforced," the Post concluded, noting that the FCC only acts upon viewer complaints. In an interview with the newspaper, Corie Wright, an attorney for the consumer group Free Press observed that viewers expect "objective information from news programs" and often have "no idea they're being pitched a commercial."

07/12/2011