ANTI-DRUG PSAs MUST BE IDENTIFIED

FCC Rules Against Ad Council

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Public service announcements broadcast under the auspices of the White House drug office advertising program must identify themselves as being part of that program, the Federal Communications Commission ruled today.

As a result of ruling, broadcasters will be forced to insert taglines proclaiming "sponsored by the Office of National Drug Control Policy" in many spots now appearing on TV and radio.

The FCC action was a defeat

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for the Ad Council, which previously petitioned the agency to allow anti-drug ads to run without the identifying information. The council's earlier petitions alleged that such an identification requirement would interfere with the anti-drug message and prompt some participating media companies to pull their support.

No reason for exemption
The FCC said there is no reason to exempt drug office advertising from a requirement that sponsors of any public service message be identified. The FCC said because the drug office is involved with choosing which anti-drug messages are eligible for broadcast, a disclaimer mentioning its participation is warranted.

Ad Council President-CEO Peggy Conlon today called the ruling "outrageous" and charged it would "take away one of the most important tools that we have in keeping children off drugs."

Ms. Conlon said she hasn't yet talked to either TV networks or her sponsoring groups on how to proceed, but suggested the ruling conflicted with congressional legislation establishing the youth drug ad campaign.

NORML
The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, and the Media Access Project had opposed the Ad Council request.

Andy Schwartzman, director of the Media Access Project, today praised the decision.

"We feel strongly this is right," he said. "This underscores the importance of the legal requirement that people should know who is trying to persuade them."

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