Be wary the next time you turn your TV on: that news segment about the latest gadget might actually be a paid product placement.
News shows are studded with guest experts doling out advice on what products to buy. Some of those experts are actually getting paid by companies to promote their products, according to theWashington Post. The paper reported on the practice -- also known as "payola" or "plugola" -- on Tuesday.
One such expert is Alison Rhodes, who has done segments for local news and even "Today." Rhodes bills herself as the "Safety Mom," and has made a name for herself as a safety expert for parents. As a result, she has made many media appearances, including on the "Today" show. However, the Post uncovered that Rhodes was paid by several companies to promote their products during her "Today" appearance. ADT then uploaded a video of Rhodes' "Today" appearance to its own YouTube account (see below), completing the cycle of promotion.
NBC said it was unaware that Rhodes was affiliated with the companies she was hawking for. Indeed, the deceptive arrangement generally flies under the radar. It is illegal under federal law, but the Post reports that it rarely attracts the attention of the FCC.
There have been other offenders in the past. In 2005, the New York Times reported that government agencies were airing their own reports as television news segments. The segments, created during the Bush administration, promoted federal polices and utilized reporters employed by the government.
See Alison Rhodes on "Today" in the clip below.