“We interrupt this program to bring you the following update…”

From time to time I like to remind clients of specific network guidelines to keep in mind when developing advertising. One such guideline involves news simulation in advertising.

A few years ago we published an article regarding the use of news simulation techniques in advertising. Below is an updated version of the previous article adapted to today’s standards.

According to network guidelines, advertising may not contain language, visual techniques, or sound effects associated with newscasts when such advertising is likely to confuse or alarm the audience, or trivialize actual newscasts.

Examples of language and techniques that are unacceptable include: “Breaking News,” “Bulletin,” “Flash,” “Live,” “Special Report” and “We interrupt this program to bring you…,” horizontal crawls at the bottom one-third of the screen and teletype sound effects. Such techniques are reserved specifically for news broadcasts.

Use of newsroom settings is usually not acceptable. However, this technique, as well as simulated interviews or newscasts in commercials, will be considered on a case-by-case basis by some networks, with approval contingent on the determination that viewers would not confuse the commercial with an actual news broadcast. Requests for scheduling of such commercials in news programming will be reviewed by Broadcast Standards and Practices.

The networks have strict policies regarding the use of news simulation techniques in advertising. So, if you have plans to create advertising which utilizes such techniques, make sure the advertising complies with the network guidelines. And remember, when it doubt, ask questions.

Marilyn Colaninno is Director of Rights and Clearances for Reed Smith and is responsible for clearing commercials for the firm’s many clients in the advertising industry. If you have specific questions, please contact Marilyn directly at 212-549-0347 or at mcolaninno@reedsmith.com.