by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 26th 2007 8:01am
Over the last few years there's been quite a bit of controversial over the practice of biased parties putting together video news releases. They look like typical local news feature segments on a particular topic, but they're actually put together by companies, PR agencies or even government agencies. Cheap or lazy TV stations will often air them as filler, though they rarely explain the origins of the report (and often will play them off as the work of their own news agency). The FCC has been warning stations about the practice of airing these videos without disclosure, but it hasn't had much of an impact. That may be changing. The FCC has now fined Comcast $4,000 for airing one such VNR, about some kind of sleeping pill without disclosing that the "news" report was produced by the company that made the sleeping pill. While it's nice that someone is cracking down on this deceptive practice, there are questions over jurisdiction. The FCC has jurisdiction over broadcast TV, but not necessarily cable TV. If anything, this seems like the sort of thing that the FTC should be looking into, rather than the FCC. Either way, the point should be clear: TV stations that are airing these videos may start to be a bit more careful (and a bit more open) about using them.
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