WASHINGTON — When Wally and the Beaver came home from school, their mom often had cookies and milk waiting for them. These days, it isn't just cookies but Oreos that are featured in the plot of "7th Heaven."

WASHINGTON — When Wally and the Beaver came home from school, their mom often had cookies and milk waiting for them. These days, it isn't just cookies but Oreos that are featured in the plot of "7th Heaven."

And how about "American Idol," in which contestants make a Ford advertisement that's presented as a hip video?

Some are questioning whether viewers should be better informed when broadcasters are paid to feature a brand in a TV show. The Federal Communications Commission said Thursday it will look into the blurring of the line between content and commerce.

The issue of product placement, in which brand-name items are used as props in shows, is not new and has not generated much controversy. It is the practice of insinuating products into actual plot lines, known as "embedded advertising" and "product integration," that has raised concern.

Spending on embedded advertising has grown as advertisers look for new ways to reach viewers who flip channels during commercials or use digital video recorders like TiVo to fast-forward past them.

In an order released Thursday, the agency said it is considering whether to require sponsorship identification notices to be in larger type, appear for a longer period on the screen or to appear at both the beginning and the end of programs.

The commission also is considering tightening sponsorship rules regarding children's programming and whether to extend the advertising disclosure requirements to cable, according to the order.

"The point of this whole exercise is to clarify what's required so that viewers actually know who is trying to sell them on something," said Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, who has been pushing for better disclosure for years.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said the agency acted because of an increasing concern over the way products are being "integrated into the programming itself."

For example, episodes of the family-oriented show "7th Heaven" included plot lines revolving around Oreo cookies. Other examples cited by critics of the practice include episodes of "The Office" in which characters work at a Staples office supply store; a "CSI" show in which characters promote features of a General Motors vehicle; and a "Smallville" episode in which the dialogue included the line "Acuvue to the rescue," a reference to the contact lens maker.

The FCC scheduled a vote on rules for embedded advertising at a commission meeting more than six months ago, but the item was pulled from the agenda following pressure by the advertising industry. The probe announced Thursday may lead to new rules, but is not as tough as the previous proposal.

FCC rules require that sponsorship announcements be made "at the time of broadcast" and that "only one such announcement" be made. Such disclosures are usually made at the end of a show and, ironically, may be missed by people with TiVo.