Public, FCC have had it with unattributed VNRs, Adelstein says

The FCC plans to "vigorously enforce" rules that effectively bar the use of video news releases without disclosing the source of that material, according to Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

The public’s confidence in the press is eroding, and unattributed source material from video news releases is a major contributing factor, he said during a speech May 25 to The Media Institute in Washington, D.C.

During his speech, he acknowledged the success of the broadcast industry operating under a commercial model, rather than as a state-run enterprise. However, commercial excesses have arisen as rules requiring broadcasters to serve the public interest have been wiped off the books, he said.

Without those restraints, situations develop where video news releases masquerade as independent, legitimate news, he said.

Concerns are raised when deception replaces disclosure and broadcasters fail to tell viewers the source of material. Doing so is a betrayal of public trust, he said.

He acknowledged that the FCC had become lax in enforcing remaining rules requiring broadcasters to disclose who gave them valuable consideration to announce anything, he said. However, that has changed with bi-partisan support on the commission to toughen its enforcement.

Adelstein, who earlier in his commission tenure opposed changes to relaxation of media ownership rules, called the increasing commercialization of U.S. media one of media consolidations’ most pernicious symptoms.

The commissioner laid out the penalties for violating sections 317 and 507, which range from fines and license revocation to one year imprisonment.

He told his audience that frustration is growing over the practice and that people are angry when they do not get real news and accurate information that empowers them to make informed decision.

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