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In a letter to the FCC, Ralph Nader, the world's most visible consumer advocate, has requested an investigation into the advertising practices of General Motors with regard to several radio personalities.
The letter from Nader was prompted by an Automotive News article entitled, "Puff Piece. Rush Limbaugh is one of the radio personalities GM is working with to talk up its vehicles" (sub. req.). The article goes on to detail how the General has supplied DJs, broadcasters and Limbaugh with test vehicles, private meetings and VIP tours of GM facilities.

Nader contests that this type of promotion may be against FCC laws requiring disclosure of payments for endorsements. Some choice quotes from Limbaugh include, "GM has a ton of momentum," and, "GM cars and trucks have never been better."

Whether or not an investigation will take place is up to the FCC, but General Motors made it clear in a statement that everything they've done with broadcasters is above board and meets with the FCC's regulations.

You can read Ralph Nader's letter in full by following the jump.

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req., Nader.org]

PRESS RELEASE

Nader letter to FCC

The following is a letter from Ralph Nader to the FCC (appendices to the letter are available at Nader.Org):

Dear Ms. Monteith:

I am writing to ask that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) conduct an investigation of the activities of certain hosts of radio shows. (See Appendix One -- a list of radio hosts participating in the General Motors promotion effort).

On August 6, 2007, Automotive News, the leading trade journal for the automotive industry, reported that GM is wooing radio stars. Its article led with a headline: "Puff Piece. Rush Limbaugh is one of the radio personalities GM is working with to talk up its vehicles." (See Appendix Two -- Automotive News article: General Motors Payola GM woos the radio stars Rush, Whoopi and others plug vehicles on the air, by Mary Connelly.)

Automotive News Reporter Mary Connelly writes that "GM says it doesn't pay the stars directly for their endorsements, although it advertises on their shows. It gives them new GM cars and trucks to drive for two weeks each month. The company also invites the celebrities to Detroit for private meetings with top executives and VIP tours of GM facilities. The attention is paying off."

The article notes that Rush Limbaugh said, "GM has a ton of momentum," he exhaled, "GM cars and trucks have never been better."

But Rush Limbaugh doesn't stop there. He waxes further: "They [GM] are working hard and they are thinking smart. Believe in General Motors, folks." (See Appendix Three -- list of stations carrying the Rush Limbaugh Show.)

Dallas disc jockey Chris Ryan, might as well have been crossing over to his advertising buddies and doing the ad. But this was not ad time. This was program time when he declared: "Have you seen all the cool things that's going on at GM? I have. If you are thinking about a new car, you got to look at GM."

Section 47 U.S.C. section 317, requires broadcasters to disclose to their listeners or viewers if matter has been aired in exchange for money, services or other valuable consideration.

Section 47 U.S.C. section 508, requires that, when anyone provides or promises to provide money, services or other consideration to someone to include program matter in a broadcast, that fact must be disclosed in advance of the broadcast, ultimately to the station over which the matter is to be aired.

Based on this article, it appears that content of the broadcasts may violate the sponsorship identification rules.

In any event, the FCC needs to investigate. Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, later to become President in the nineteen twenties, called radio "a public trust." He believed the public airwaves, being owned by the people, should convey no advertisements whatsoever.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 45 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hey, Nader is a good guy!
      In November, 2000, Nader encouraged some silly, greenie voters into marking a ballot or poking a hanging chad in Florida that would otherwise have gone to Al Gore. In a sense, Nader elected Bush in much the same way that Perot elected Clinton in '92.

      So, Nader gave us lower taxes, economic growth, and a safer country since 9/11/01.

      Too bad, Bush-haters. Nader's best work was done 7 years ago. Ha, Ha, Ha!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I find it rather funny this is earth shattering news its been going on since the beginning of time and its also humorous that the radio stations were the first medium that was accused of the same thing, remember Payola, this practice while not right will never stop, get over it Ralph and besides whats wrong with GM getting a little successful its critical to our economy...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Consumer knobs like Nader would be out of a job if they weren't always mucking about in other people's business.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Toyota basically does the same here to our radio station. They lease/give/sell/borrow them a Tundra or what ever to drive around and talk about.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Actually, you're partly wrong. Ed Shultz also promotes GM Vehicles and had Ralph Nader on the other day because Ralph included him on his list. Ed Shultz is not technically an Air America employee, but on the XM radio broadcast of Air America, he is on 5 days a week in the middle of the day and would certainly be considered a progressive like the rest of Air America.

      That being said, however, I still think Ralph Nader, for all his good works, is a turd for enabling George W. Bush to be president.


      and Not Only that now he endorses that other snake michael bloomberg who is a CFR Member now.

      God Help Us.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If you wanna talk Hypocrisy Rush is your man.

      Rush is scum of the Earth and there are plenty more like him.

      I wonder if he pushes the use of those drugs like he does GM vehicles.

      Nader on the other hand is Salt of the Earth, he should have been running this country, unfortunately too many people ( Suckers) are easily led by FOOLS like Rush and such fear mongers.

      The Next time an Air Bag saves your life or the life of a loved one think about Ralph Nader.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Good job Nader, you caught GM advertising lol

      "GM has a ton of momentum," he exhaled, "GM cars and trucks have never been better."

      Nothing wrong with stating the truth. The general is on the upswing.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well technically you could say that all cars get better as they get newer, but the point that was trying to be made is that GM is on the upswing.
        • 7 Years Ago
        They might be on the upswing, but saying, "GM cars and trucks have never been better." That's really not saying much, considering how bad they have been.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Thankfully there are few people who really listen to Nader these days. It's time to hang it up, Ralphie old boy; that same tired old shtick just ain't workin' anymore ...

      Product placement is nothing new. Hell, I've seen TV shows and you'd think the whole town drove the same brand of car. Studebaker sponsored "Mister Ed," Ford sponsored "The Andy Griffith Show" and Chrysler sponsored "The Beverly Hillbillies." And you'd better believe the actors shilled for the automakers, too. Want proof? Check out YouTube. It's everywhere.

      Nader ran out of constructive things to say years ago, so now he's just stirring the pot. Sure, he has the right to complain, but do we all have to listen to him?
        • 7 Years Ago
        This isn't product placement, this is phantom endorsement. It's one thing to all cars in a move be GM cars (Matrix, Transformers)--it's quite another for a media personality to extoll the virtues of a product /for compensation/ without disclosing said compensation.

        That's the issue her: GM is using Rush to astroturf.

        Personally, I think this is unethical no matter who does it, and it's good for Nader to do what he's doing. People like him (and Moore) are a good check on the influence of corporations, whether you agree with them or not. Companies are beholden to stockholders and directors, not to consumers--at least not directly. Without Nader et al, companies would be cutting corners and playing dirty at every turn to increase share value and the year-end executive bonus.

        I've follow Nader's Canadian equivalent, Phil Edmonston of Lemon-Aid/APA for years. Like Nader, he's taken chunks out of everyone (GM and Ford for warranty performance, Hyundai for power overstatement, Toyota for the handling of the sludge issue and more) and the consumers (and the industry, if not on the balance sheet) has been the better for it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just to contrast, Rush often praises Apple's products on his show, but Apple doesn't pay him or provide him with free computers or iPods. Indeed, he once asked if he could make a paid commercial for them and they said no, thanks, for which the company was soundly criticized by the dittohead community.
      • 7 Years Ago
      sounds to me like rush think that GM's products are good and said that on the air. its an opinion show and he gives his opinion.

      my opinion is that he is an unethical and hypocritical drug addict and i could care less what his opinion is.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why does Nader look like the "man in the suit" from Half-Life?

      or

      Why does the "man in the suit" from Half-Life look like Nader?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Deceit is the heart of this very effective advertising technique. It relies on an opinion leader's established level of trust with the audience. Gullible listeners, unaware it is a paid solicitation, believe that if the personality says it, it must be so. The FCC should investigate and curtail the practice.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It seems there are those posting here that don't agree. No consumer protection and the biggest spender can scoop up the rewards. Mighty corporations can make anything believable and all restrain should be removed. I'm glad I don't live there.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Want the FCC to change everyone's underwear, too?
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