Groups rebut RTNDA VNR commission filing

A mid-October letter from the Center for Media and Democracy and Free Press to the commission affirms the legitimacy of a report on the widespread, undisclosed use of video news releases in newscasts.
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The Radio-Television News Director Association misrepresented and distorted a report from the Center for Media and Democracy about the use of video news releases (VNRs) by TV stations in an Oct. 5 filing with the FCC, according to a letter to the commission from two groups at the center of the issue.

The Oct. 16 letter from the Center for Media and Democracy and Free Press said an Oct. 4 filing made on behalf of the RTNDA by Wiley Rein & Fielding included a document the groups said refuted on a point-by-point basis issues the RTNDA raised about the legitimacy of the center’s “Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed.”

The FCC, based in part on the report, has issued 42 letters of inquiry to 77 broadcast licensees to determine whether the sources of VNRs were properly disclosed during newscasts. (See: “RTNDA urges commission to drop VNR inquiry.”)

“The ‘Fake TV News’ report documented 98 separate instances where TV stations aired VNRs or related satellite media tours,” the groups’ letter said. “Not once did a TV station disclose to its news audience the name of the corporate client behind the sponsored segment… Such practices appear to be clear violations of the commission’s sponsorship identification rules.”

In the letter, the groups told the commission that the association of news directors needed to understand that the use of the airwave by its members was a privilege, not a right.

For more information, visit: www.freepress.net and www.prwatch.org.