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September 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Washington D.C.-based media watchdog Free Press has filed a complaint with the FCC about the use of “experts” on shopping channels and television news and talk shows who are actually shills for the companies they’re talking about. The complaint cited articles by Los Angeles Times media columnist James Rainey in which he described numerous abuses, including one in which a toy promoter appeared on a local station without being identified as an employee of the company whose products she was assessing. “Pay-to-play news is becoming epidemic on the public airwaves,” Free Press said in a statement. “People rely on the news to make major decisions about their lives – including where to seek medical treatment or how to vote. They deserve to know when a newscast has been influenced by commercial considerations. And, more importantly, they deserve to know when programming that looks like real news coverage is in fact a commercial. The FCC needs to investigate these covert commercials and punish those stations that have broken the rules.”