In Re Request by NATIONAL BROADCASTING CO. For Ruling Regarding Sponsorship of Products
31 F.C.C.2d 921
RELEASE-NUMBER: FCC 71-794
AUGUST 4, 1971
[*921] GENTLEMEN: This refers to your request for a further ruling regarding sponsorship of products in a program which was the subject of the Commission's letter to you of March 10, 1971.
You originally asked whether the entire program would be deemed commercial matter if a single product identified with the program title and the principal performer were advertised in one of the six one-minute commercial messages, provided that various procedures were followed to avoid cross references between the commercial and the program content. These procedures were set forth in our letter of March 10, which also stipulated that the principal performer on the program was not to participate in commercials for the licensed product and that "no advertising be presented on the program for any other product which is identified in any way with the title of the program or the principal performer."
On the basis of your representations and the conditions specified by the Commission, we ruled that no more than the designated commercial messages in the program need be computed as commercial. In so ruling, we took cognizance of your representation that the program ("Mr. Wizard") is a well-known and long-respected children's program of significant educational value.
You now ask whether the Commission's ruling may be interpreted as applying primarily to the length of time devoted to advertising "Mr. Wizard" products rather than the total number of such products advertised. You state that the sponsor now wishes to advertise three "Mr. Wizard" products rather than one. Each product would be advertised in a 30-second commercial, no more than two of which would be broadcast on any program, so that the total commercial content for "Mr. Wizard" products would be the same as previously represented.
We have carefully considered your request as well as a letter from counsel for the advertiser of the products, but we are not persuaded that our prior ruling should be altered, and we call your attention to the fact that it specifically limited the advertising or products identified with the program title or principal performer to one such product. In that ruling we believe that we extended the permissible limits in this area as far as may be done without violating our basic policy as set forth in prior rulings. Accordingly, we reaffirm our ruling of March 10 that only one product identified with the title or principal [*922] performer may be advertised unless the entire content of the program is to be considered as commercial in nature.
Commissioner Bartley concurring and issuing a statement in which Commissioner Johnson joins; Commissioners Robert E. Lee and Wells dissenting.
BY DIRECTION OF THE COMMISSION, BEN F. WAPLE, Secretary.
CONCURRING STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER ROBERT T. BARTLEY IN WHICH COMMISSIONER NICHOLAS JOHNSON JOINS
I dissented to the ruling of March 10 for the reason that I would not have permitted advertising of even the one product, the "Mr. Wizard Chemistry set," without considering the entire content of the "Mr. Wizard Program" as commercial.
I concur in the action here since it denies the NBC request and does not extend the limits of the prior ruling.