Lawmakers, FCC Focus on Use of Video News Releases

Apr 14, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Angry about the undisclosed use by TV outlets of Bush administration video news releases, Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., vowed Thursday to promote legislation that would require broadcasters and cable operators that use government-sponsored VNRs to continuously disclose the sponsorship during the airing of the programming.

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, agreed to hold hearings on the proposal by next week. Under the gun from lawmakers about VNR use, the Federal Communications Commission late Wednesday formally put broadcasters and cable operators on notice that agency rules oblige them to “clearly disclose to members of their audiences the nature, source and sponsorship of the material that they are viewing.”

The FCC also asked for public comment on how stations are currently using video news releases, including whether the government and other producers of VNRs pay stations to air their products. The FCC warned that it may take additional action based on what it learns from the comments.

“The commission will investigate any situation in which it appears that these requirements of the law may have been violated and will order administrative sanctions against its regulatees, including the imposition of monetary forfeitures and the initiation of license revocation proceedings, where such action is appropriate,” the FCC said.