Infomercial Guidelines

An infomercial is a paid commercial program that exceeds 12 minutes in length and promotes or sells products or services. The CRTC also requires that any commercial message exceeding 2 minutes in length adheres to the requirements indicated below, concerning the identification of paid commercial programming. In addition, infomercials may not be directed to children.

Advertisers selling products or services by direct response television must comply with the fulfillment practices set out in the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA).

The purpose of this guideline is to provide all infomercial advertisers an effective guide in developing their programs for any type of product or service while recognizing there can be no clearly defined set of criteria that would be acceptable to all viewing audiences. No guideline can anticipate every possible permutation that may be problematic, however, Telecaster expects every infomercial and its content to comply with the intent and spirit of this guideline. Therefore, all infomercials must follow these guidelines and where applicable must adhere to all Telecaster Guidelines and Objectives set forth on this website.

As such, Telecaster will review infomercials to determine their approval in support of, but not limited to, the following criteria:

1. Each infomercial must be preceded and concluded with a clear and prominent video and audio disclaimer which states that the infomercial is indeed paid commercial programming. This announcement must also state the product or service being offered and the advertiser’s name. For example: “This program is/has been a paid presentation for (name of service/product) and is brought to you by (company/advertiser name).” *Infomercials which are intended for adults only must incorporate a disclaimer in both audio and video which notify viewers that the paid programming contains content which is sexually suggestive, is intended for adults only and that all persons participating in the program are 18+. For example: “This program is/has been a paid presentation for (name of service/product) and is brought to you by (company/advertiser name). This advertisement is intended for adults only and may contain sexually suggestive content. All persons participating in the paid program are 18+.” In addition to the above requirements, infomercials intended for adults only must display a video super throughout the programming which states, “Adults only.”

2. Throughout the infomercial, prior to each (verbal) ordering opportunity, a clear and prominent video super must be displayed which indicates to the viewer that they are watching paid programming. An ordering opportunity is defined by the CRTC as a direct solicitation made by an on-screen host or through a voice-over, that provides information on how to purchase the product or service being advertised. In addition to the host, if a customer/audience member is giving a testimonial and suggests that viewers call, this will be considered a direct solicitation. The display of either a phone number, website address, a company name or address by itself does not constitute an ordering opportunity. Examples of a direct solicitation are “call now,” “call the number on your screen,” “here’s how to order,” “go to the phone right now.” Direct solicitation applies to audio only. If “order now” or “here”s how to order” appear in video only, this does not constitute a direct solicitation. A minimum of three video supers indicating, “Paid programming,” must be displayed throughout an infomercial regardless of the number of call to actions. For infomercials which are greater than 2 minutes in length and not longer than 12 minutes, we will require a minimum of one “Paid programming” super to appear throughout the message.

3. Infomercials which solicit orders must clearly disclose the price and purchase terms in a video super next to or near the price:

a. Canadian or US funds;
b. Plus applicable taxes; and
c. Shipping and handling*
*Note: In the case where a money back guarantee exists, but does not include the reimbursement of the shipping and handling fees, there must be a video super on the screen which indicates, “Less shipping and handling.”

4. Infomercials presenting any first person testimonials citing or endorsing product use by persons who have been reimbursed for their participation must feature a disclaimer such as “actor portrayed, participants reimbursed or dramatization.” Wording and placement of this disclaimer is at the discretion of the producer.

5. Infomercials promoting consumer drugs, cosmetics, food, beer or wine will require pre-clearance through Advertising Standards Canada or Extreme Reach Clearances. If requested, Telecaster will submit infomercials for clearance to the appropriate organization and, if a script is not available, Telecaster will arrange for transcriptions at a nominal fee. If clearance is required through either Advertising Standards Canada or Extreme Reach Clearances, the clearance numbers are valid for the life of the infomercial unless the word “new” is being used.

6. Whenever product superiority and comparative claims are made an Attestation letter from the advertiser stating that all testimonials by individuals appearing in the infomercial and all claims made throughout the program are true will be accepted in lieu of individual affidavits and documentation.

7. Advertisers of infomercials using an 800, 900, web site or any other variation and/or combination where the possibility exists that callers may incur a cost for using the service should pay particular attention to the Telecaster Phone Service Guideline.

In addition to the requirements in point 1, these types of infomercials must also be preceded and concluded with a clear and prominent disclaimer in audio and video which states the total cost the viewer will incur for placing the call or accessing the website. For example:

“This program is/has been a paid presentation for (product name) and is brought to you by (company/advertiser name) and is intended for adults only and may contain sexually suggestive material. The cost of the call is (price) per minute OR charges may apply depending on the service selected (the maximum amount a caller may be charged must be stated. E.g. “up to $35 CDN/call or starting at .50 CDN/minute up to $5.99 CDN/minute”) and access is via a 900 number.

The cost of the call and access via 900 number must be mentioned in audio and video (this includes the opening and closing disclaimer) at least three times throughout the infomercial for a minimum of 5 seconds each time.

8. For chat lines, dating services etc., the infomercial must not contain any audio in the first person. For example: “call me,” “we’re waiting” or similar words to this effect. Also, you cannot have any scenes showing the models mouthing “call me,” “we’re waiting,” etc.

Cost for reviewing infomercials

The cost for the initial review of an infomercial is $14.00 CDN per program minute, plus GST/HST/QST where applicable. Payment must be made through the Telecaster Online System using credit card only.

When revisions are requested by Telecaster for the purposes of compliance with the above requirements and Telecaster Guidelines, there will be no charge for the first review, but for all subsequent reviews full charges will apply. Payment of the fee does not guarantee Telecaster approval. However, Telecaster staff will provide all reasonable assistance to achieve clearance.

Infomercials that have been altered by the advertiser subsequent to Telecaster approval will be required to resubmit for a new Telecaster number. However, the clearance of infomercial tags, e.g. a variety of different telephone numbers for the same infomercial will be cleared at no additional cost.