Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Airing Video News Releases Nets Stations FCC Fines

Seal of the United States Federal Communicatio...Image via WikipediaMediabistro.com's TVSpy blog reports that Fox-owned KMSP-TV in Minneapolis and NBC Affiliate WMGM-TV in Linwood, N.J., were socked with $4,000 fines by the Federal Communications Commission for airing video news releases (VNR) without disclosing to viewers they were doing so and without airing footage from competing products.

The FCC enforced against the two stations Section 317 of the Communication Act of 1934 (37 U.S.C. sec. 317), which mandates that stations inform viewers if material is aired in exchange for money, services or other valuable consideration, and 47 C.F.R. sec. 73.1212, an FCC rule that articulates broadcasters' responsibilities to make such a sponsorship identification.  KMSP-TV showed a VNR about the zinc-based, cold-fighting medication Zicam, which included footage of a doctor recommending its usage, without showing footage of competitors' medications.

In the WMGM-TV matter, a VNR promoting General Motors-produced convertibles was shown, resulting in the FCC penalty, even though the station was not compensated by GM. The Center for Media and Democracy was one of the complainants to the FCC. The stations are considering appealing the fines.

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