NORML’s Complaint Against ONDCP Is Under Review By FCC

A NORML complaint filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and television networks has been reviewed by the FCC legal department and an undisclosed recommendation has been forwarded to FCC decision makers for review. This complaint arose from the ONDCP’s participation in a program where the ONDCP would offer additional advertising dollars if network programs had anti-drug messages embedded in their programming.
NORML Foundation Litigation Director, Tom Dean, Esq., filed the complaint on NORML’s behalf on February 17, which asks the FCC to sanction the ONDCP and the networks involved for their continued violations of the anti-payola law set forth in the Federal Communications Act. In the meantime, NORML has received two packages of information from the ONDCP pertaining to the program per a NORML Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
On Wednesday, April 12, Dean received a letter from ONDCP counsel Daniel Petersen, Esq., who denied NORML’s request to acquire copies of the television scripts that are believed to have been influenced by the ONDCP, but Petersen stated NORML can view the scripts at the ONDCP office. Petersen also refused to disclose copies of correspondence between the ONDCP’s Alan Levitt, program manager of the media campaign and his boss, ONDCP director Barry McCaffrey, citing exemption five of the FOIA which exempts from public release, “Materials involving advice on recommendations or opinions which are part of the process of government decision-making.”
In a 1998 interview with USA Today Levitt said, “One of the most surprising results we’ve seen has been the tremendous response by the media and entertainment industry and their willingness to change story lines; they’re willing to listen to what we’re saying.”
“The ONDCP is hiding interaction that the public has a right to know about,” Dean said. “This is not a military situation involving national security. General McCaffrey should stop hoodwinking the American public and come clean.”
For more information, please contact Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Litigation Director at (202) 483-8751. For further information on NORML’s FCC complaint and related information, please visit