Senators Hope to Make VNR Legislation Permanent

May 12, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., placing a disclosure requirement on pre-packaged news stories sponsored by the government will be enacted permanently if Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, has his way.

“It’s been the announced intention to make the Byrd amendment permanent,” Sen. Stevens said Thursday during hearings before the Senate Commerce Committee.

As it stands, the Byrd provision can be effective only until Sept. 30 because it was attached as an amendment to a major appropriations bill. But Sen. Stevens made clear that he believes making the measure permanent would be preferable to voting on a controversial measure backed by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., that would require continuous disclosure of government-sponsored video news releases with the disclaimer: “Produced by the U.S. Government.”

In an interview, Sen. Stevens said the Kerry-Lautenberg measure would discourage stations from carrying any government video. “It would be very disconcerting,” Sen. Stevens said.

Also during the hearings, Jonathan Adelstein, a Federal Communications Commission Democrat, said agency rules require licensee disclosure of product-placement ads, at least when the licensee receives compensation for them. “There needs to be greater vigilance,” Mr. Adelstein told reporters.