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American TV stations in 'fake news' inquiry

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/search/story.cfm?storyid=0005AD07-276A-147A-9D9C83027AF1002A

11:20am Monday May 29, 2006
By Andrew Buncombe

WASHINGTON - Federal authorities are investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news.

Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products.

Investigators from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are seeking information about stations across the country after a report produced by a campaign group detailed the extraordinary extent of the use of such items.

The report, by the non-profit group Centre for Media and Democracy, found that over a 10-month period at least 77 television stations were making use of the faux news broadcasts, known as Video News Releases (VNRs).

Not one told viewers who had produced the items.

"We know we only had partial access to these VNRs and yet we found 77 stations using them," said Diana Farsetta, one of the group's researchers.

"I would say it's pretty extraordinary."

Ms Farsetta said the public relations companies commissioned to produce these segments by corporations had become increasingly sophisticated in their techniques in order to get the VNRs broadcast.

"They have got very good at mimicking what a real, independently produced television report would look like," she said.

The FCC has declined to comment on the investigation but investigators from the commission's enforcement unit recently approached Ms Farsetta for a copy of her group's report.

Among items provided by the Bush administration to news stations was one in which an Iraqi-American in Kansas City was seen saying "Thank you Bush. Thank you USA" in response to the 2003 fall of Baghdad.

The footage was actually produced by the State Department, one of 20 federal agencies that have produced and distributed such items.

Many of the corporate reports, produced by drugs manufacturers such as Pfizer, focus on health issues and promote the manufacturer's product.

One example cited by the report was a Halloween segment produced by the confectionery giant Mars, which featured Snickers, M&Ms and other company brands.

While the original VNR disclosed that it was produced by Mars, such information was removed when it was broadcast by the television channel - in this case aFox-owned station in St Louis, Missouri.

Bloomberg news service said that other companies that sponsored the promotions included General Motors, the world's largest car maker, and Intel, the biggest maker of semi-conductors.

All of the companies said they included full disclosure of their involvement in the VNRs.

The controversy over the use of VNRs by television stations first erupted last spring.

At the time the FCC issued a public notice warning broadcasters that they were obliged to inform viewers if items were sponsored.

The maximum fine for each violation is US$32,500 ($51,000).

OUR ROVING REPORTER

Kate Brookes is an ABC reporter in Nevada, a CBS reporter in Texas, a Fox reporter in Missouri, and an ABC reporter (again) in Louisiana. In fact, she's a publicist for Medialink, the world's first and largest provider of video news releases (VNRs). In January, Medialink sent Brookes to Iowa to shoot a VNR on the "Ethanol boom", the growing trend of using corn-based fuel as an alternative energy source. The two-minute feature included all-positive testimony from two industry experts, an ethanol plant builder, and a local corn farmer. Five stations used the material, replacing all visuals with network graphics and introducing Brookes as if she were their reporter.

SUGAR-COATED SPIN

In October 2005, KTVI-2 (St Louis) aired a two-minute segment on how to plan a fun and safe Halloween for kids. The story, which featured numerous tips from 'lifestyle expert' Julie Edelman, was teeming with product shots for Snickers and M&Ms and flowers. The video was lifted straight from VNR created by D S Simon Productions and jointly funded by Masterfoods (formerly the M&M/Mars Company) and 1-800-Flowers.

FIRST CASUALTY OF WAR

Among items provided by the Bush Administration to news stations was one in which an Iraqi-American in Kansas City was seen saying "Thank you Bush. Thank you USA" in response to the 2003 fall of Baghdad. The footage was in fact produced by the State Department, one of 20 federal agencies that have produced and distributed such items for media consumption.

Source: prwatch.org

- INDEPENDENT

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atbell

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And this is the media model that the conservatives, our government, wants to implement in Canada.

:p
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
see??

you two guys posted the same article!


must be some common ground between you too somewhere...

now shake hands...
 
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Ditto Much

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2canplay

TRIBE Member
Wierd no ones talking about it in the States?:rolleyes:

So, I ask again, is Public TV a good thing or a bad thing??? Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Italy, Spain, Canada - we all have public TV...I don't think MediaLink's stories would be picked up by the BBC...just a hunch.

However, if your President of ABC News and the boss is telling you to ring more profit out of the department, having a 5 minute segment dropped on your lap for free (no crew costs, no reporter costs, no film costs, etc.), you'll prbably be delighted to run it - it's 5 minutes of free programming AND you can sell advertising around it. It's a no brainer for a Private Company.

Yet, if they had a strong, well funded public network, I wonder if Private media would be so quick to undermine their news departments with Crap...because people would quickly see the difference between News-Entertainment and News.

In any case, the US Media is a laughing stock. Of that, there is no doubt.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
The USA has PBS and its excellent. The news coverage is on par if not better than CBC or BBC and Frontline itself is easily a fifth estate.
 

2canplay

TRIBE Member
Yeah, I meant a seriously funded public broadcaster. PBS is continually undermined by their lack of funding. A serious competitor to CTV is CBC. A serious competitor to ITV is BBC, etc. These public broadcasters are funded in the billions and NEVER ask for public donations...as a result, their content is percieved as on par with the big private networks PBS is laughable. You can't compare PBS with the truly puclicly funded networks.
 

Subsonic Chronic

TRIBE Member
VNR's are hardly anything new... but I'm curious why it's becoming a big deal all of a sudden when it went on under the radar for so long.
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Subsonic Chronic said:
VNR's are hardly anything new... but I'm curious why it's becoming a big deal all of a sudden when it went on under the radar for so long.



good question?

I wonder if US cable news networks are loosing so much credibility that they need to cause the perception to shift less they loose ratings
 

deafplayer

TRIBE Member
public broadcasting is much stronger in Europe

Canada's regulation & public broadcaster are somewhere in between the British and US models in that respect (autonomy from the main commercial media 'markets')

I think it says a LOT that public broadcasting is generally more critical (of government) than commercial media, which appears more independant institutionally
 

deafplayer

TRIBE Member
2canplay said:
Yet, if they had a strong, well funded public network, I wonder if Private media would be so quick to undermine their news departments with Crap...because people would quickly see the difference between News-Entertainment and News.

In any case, the US Media is a laughing stock. Of that, there is no doubt.
Yeah there is kind of a ripple effect... public broadcasting contributes to a more critical climate in which private media operate (though the whole climate (in which public media also lives) is overwhelmingly private-created/dominated)
The US media is a laughing stock, of that there is no question. Canadian media is very nearly as horrible, and public broadcasting in both countries is only marginally better (but considering how horrible the whole industry is, that margin is very valuable)
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
deafplayer said:
The US media is a laughing stock, of that there is no question. Canadian media is very nearly as horrible, and public broadcasting in both countries is only marginally better (but considering how horrible the whole industry is, that margin is very valuable)

Straight up.
 
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