VNR companies respond to FCC public notice

NEW YORK: Members of the VNR, PR, and television industries have responded to an FCC public notice on VNR usage.

NEW YORK: Members of the VNR, PR, and television industries have responded to an FCC public notice on VNR usage.

The groups submitted comments to the notice, which was first issued on April 13, just before the June 22 deadline.

That notice reminded broadcasters of existing FCC guidelines on sponsorship rules. Citing the Communications Act of 1934, the notice stated that the rules ?impose a greater obligation in connection with political material and program matter dealing with controversial issues.?

A group of VNR producers ? including representatives from Medialink, DS Simon Productions, Home Front Communications, News Broadcast Network, On the Scene Productions, Plus Media, VNR-1 Communications, and West Glen Communications? issued a two-page comment stating that current use of VNRs is consistent with the FCC guidelines.

?[W]e submit that the Commission?s rules and policies are well understood by broadcasters and VNR producers and distributors,? it stated. ?Accordingly, we do not believe that further regulation in this area is necessary or appropriate.?

MultiVu, in conjunction with its parent company PR Newswire, submitted a separate, 50-page comment stating that VNRs should not be subject to governmental oversight, but rather used at the discretion of newsrooms.

?I do have a problem with the government mandating what the newsrooms must do,? said Larry Thomas, president of MultVu. ?We felt the FCC needed a more substantive response to a serious issue.?

The Public Relations Society of America, National Association of Broadcasters, and the Radio-Television News Directors Association issued separate comments, all of which stated that additional regulation of VNRs is not necessary.

?We are extremely pleased to see the NAB, RTNDA, and PRSA all comment along the lines of our joint statement,? said Larry Moskowitz, president, chairman, and CEO.

A comment filed jointly by media watchdog groups Center for Media and Democracy and Free Press, urged the FCC to adopt additional rules to ensure full disclosure of VNRs and ANRs.

?In particular, we recommend that all VNRs, whether funded by government or private sources, should carry a continuous, frame-by-frame visual notification of their source,? it read. ?This avoids the need for the Commission to decide which of the numerous topics covered in VNRs are ?political? or ?controversial? ? surely a difficult task.?

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