Sponsorship disclosure rules apply to VNRs, says commission

The commission issued a reminder that existing FCC rules require broadcasters and cable operators to inform their audiences of the source of VNRs on political and controversial topics
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The FCC last month reminded broadcasters, cable operators and video news release (VNR) producers of their responsibility to disclose to the public the source of VNRs under commission rules regarding sponsor identification.

Sponsorship disclosure rules are aimed at allowing “listeners and viewers to know who seeks to persuade them,” the commission said in its April 13 notice.

The reminder was prompted by many requests asking the FCC to consider if the use of VNRs by broadcast licensees and cable operators complies with its sponsorship identification rules. According to the FCC, some have suggested broadcast licensees and cable operators may have transmitted VNRs “with news stories containing material paid for, prepared and/or provided to them by or on behalf of commercial, governmental and other entities without disclosing” their sources.

In the notice, the commission reminded broadcasters and cable operators that Congress has given the commission authority to require a sponsorship notice when political announcements or a discussion of a controversial issue is aired. The commission’s broadcast and cable rules, “expressly require the airing of sponsorship disclosure.”

The commission is seeking comments on VNRs to monitor the situation. Comments are due June 22. Reply comments are due July 22.

For more information, visit www.fcc.gov.

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