We certainly suspected
this when New York City first announced that it was running a series of silly and misleading videos as part of a media campaign to "Stop Piracy in NYC," but now it's been confirmed that these videos were not, in fact, New York City's, but are purely NBC Universal's. At the time, NYC had "thanked" NBC Universal (among others), but had not admitted that NBC Universal "owned" and had created the videos themselves. However, in response to one of the Freedom of Information requests
that I filed with New York City, the city noted that the videos are property of NBC Universal
. I had asked for any licensing info between NYC and Homeland Security/ICE because ICE was using the same videos. Since NYC had clearly suggested that those videos were the creation of the NYC government, I assumed that ICE must have licensed the videos from NYC. However, NYC responded to my request by saying that there was no such info to hand over, because it did not license the videos to Homeland Security. And the reason was that NYC did not own the videos:
The Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment has no records responsive to your request. Please note that NBC Universal owns the material, not the City of New York.
That's fascinating information. Of course, I had also
filed a separate FOI request
for any info on the licensing agreement between NYC and NBC Universal. As of this writing there has been no
response from NYC, in violation of New York State's Freedom of Information Law, which requires a response within 5 business days (we're way beyond that).
Still, at least give NYC credit for making it clear that NBC Universal had a hand in the creation of the videos, even if it left out the rather pertinent information that it created
the videos. While I find it immensely troubling that a municipal government would run PSAs created by corporate interests (without making that clear), I'm extremely
troubled by the news that the federal government
would run those same videos
with absolutely no mention
of the fact that the videos were created and owned by a private corporation with a tremendous stake in the issue.
Could you imagine how the press would react if, say, the FDA ran PSAs that were created and owned by McDonald's without making that clear to the public? How about if the Treasury Department ran a PSA created and owned by Goldman Sachs? So, shouldn't we be asking serious questions about why Homeland Security and ICE are running a one-sided, misleading corporate propaganda video, created and owned by a private company, without mentioning the rather pertinent information of who made it?
Does Homeland Security work for the US public... or for NBC Universal?