Oct. 19 Vote Set for Labels on Government-Sponsored News Packages

Oct 11, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The Senate Commerce Committee announced Tuesday that it will vote Oct. 19 on legislation that would require cable TV operators and broadcast stations that air government-sponsored video news releases to continuously disclose the sponsorship.

The bill, backed by a coalition of leading Democrats-including Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., John Kerry, D-Mass., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.-is intended to undermine efforts by federal agencies to surreptitiously promote administration policies on the air. If the bill becomes law, it will require a label reading “Produced by the U.S. Government” to “be visible for the entire duration of the prepackaged news story.”

Earlier this year the Senate approved an appropriations bill rider sponsored by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., that would require VNRs to include only a “clear notification” of the government’s sponsorship within the story. The Byrd rider expired Sept. 30.

Also on the committee’s Oct. 19 voting agenda is DTV legislation that is expected to set the date for the broadcast industry’s transition to digital and settle other key issues.