PSAs require notice of White House support - Broadcasting & Cable

PSAs require notice of White House support

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White House-sponsored public-service announcements against drug abuse must
identify the government's backing, the Federal Communications Commission ruled
Thursday.

The commission found that PSAs paid for by the Office of National Drug
Control Policy must identify the White House program as the sponsor, rejecting
the Advertising Council's claim that the announcements are exempt from
ad-identification requirements.

The program was created in 1998 after Congress grew concerned that free
anti-drug PSAs were airing less frequently.

To prevent the paid PSAs from supplanting free announcements from other
organizations, participants in the program were required to match every federal
dollar spent on ads with corresponding free airtime or other in-kind
contributions. Also, none of the program's funds were to be used to crowd out
existing PSAs.

Participating in a government-sponsored health campaign and anticrime
campaign does not abrogate identification requirements, the FCC found.

'It is not the nature of the message conveyed that determines whether an
identification is required, but rather whether or not a station receives
valuable consideration,' the commission said in its order.

Anticipating that the FCC might rule this way, the Ad Council also sought a
waiver, but the commission ruled that there was not sufficient
justification.

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