Labeling to Be Clarified

Mar 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

CNN Newsource, which distributed the government-produced video about the benefits of the new Medicare law, is modifying the labeling on all future video news releases in the wake of the controversy.
CNN will now add a fourth label to make it clear to its client stations that the video package they are viewing is a press release.
A CNN spokesman said that despite some media reports, the video release from the Department of Health and Human Services was “clearly” identified as a press release in the script and in the window that displays the source.
Late last week the spokesman said CNN Newsource henceforth will add a category designation that names the funders of the releases.
The spokesman said CNN Newsource receives “a nominal fee” in return for making a video news release available to its affiliate-clients, which include some 85 percent of the news-producing TV stations in the country.
The policies on offering and identifying video news releases vary greatly at the network units that distribute a wide array of video packages to affiliates.
ABC NewsOne does not regularly feed video news releases, a spokeswoman said. While there are some exceptions made for short pieces of clearly labeled video from releases, sound bites from the press packages are never offered by NewsOne, which does not accept distribution fees, because “no amount of money is worth that implication,” said the spokeswoman.
At the NBC News Channel, in which the network and the affiliates are partners, a manager’s approval is necessary for distribution of such a release, said a spokeswoman. “We are always on the lookout for this kind of thing, so there is no need to alter practices,” the spokeswoman said.
CBS Newspath, which also gets a small fee for video press release distribution, supplies news, sports, weather, medicine and health reports, business and consumer news and a broad range of features to the approximately 200 CBS affiliates.
Newspath limits feeds of the video press release packages to the same half-hour every day and additionally labels the slate that comes up on the satellite feed. Users must click on the related icon on their Newspath Now desktop equipment. In addition, the video is marked and the scripts are marked and the producer is identified. “There are many, many safeguards,” said a CBS News spokeswoman. “There is as full disclosure as there could possibly be.”