November 19, 2001

Before And After

Disclosure

In the age of synergy, such cross promotion may not raise as many eyebrows as it would have some years ago.

Yet what is surprising by any measure is how rarely the parent relationship is disclosed.

When a celebrity appearing on the Early Show, for example, is starring in the latest movie produced by Paramount (owned by Viacom), does the reporter mention the relationship?

Back in June, across the board the answer was usually no.

Overall only 11% of stories about products connected to a parent company disclosed the corporate relationship.

Of the 10 CBS stories involving Viacom, for instance, only one disclosed the relationship. The same was true at ABC: only one of 11 connections was disclosed. At NBC the ratio was one out of five.

Synergy & Disclosure
Did networks disclose when selling a parent company product?
 
Disclosed 11% 80% 40%
Not Disclosed 89 20 60
Total 100 100 100

For all the networks, the amount of disclosure increased dramatically in October to 80% of all parent-company related stories.

The reason was because many of the stories involved promoting the new fall lineup of each networks' entertainment programs, in which the disclosure is part of the promotion since you want the viewer to know which network to watch. All but one of these stories in October promoting a parent company product and disclosing the relationship were promoting a network program or special.

Even with this higher level of disclosure in October, in the end, across the 20 days of programs studied, still less than half (40%) of all stories about a corporate parent product disclosed the connection.