The Federal Communications Commission will examine the issues of paid newscast appearances and radio payola as part of its upcoming inquiry into broadcast localism, commission officials said Wednesday.
Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein told the Federal Communications Bar Association the FCC needs to examine whether stations carrying paid appearances during newscasts are providing adequate disclosures to viewers.
"It's time for the FCC to probe whether our rules adequately deter the newest practices we're hearing about," he said. "These disguised infomercials are being dubbed as the latest in pay-for-play journalism. The commercialization of news blurs the lines between infomercials, infotainment and general information. Is the local broadcaster making independent determinations about the needs of listener in the local community or is the entire broadcast up for sale? Payola is bad enough for music, but payola on the news should be unthinkable –– one might say eminently unthinkable."
Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) this week asked the FCC to weigh in on the issue, as well.