WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission has issued a reminder to broadcasters about their responsibility to disclose the origin of government video news releases.
"It's high time for the FCC to remind broadcasters and others subject to our sponsorship identification rules that they have a legal obligation to let their viewers know when they run stories from somewhere else," said Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein in a statement. "People have a legal right to know the real source when they see something on TV disguised as real 'news.'"
The public notice cited recent requests by public interest groups and members of Congress to investigate the VNR disclosure issue.
Reaction from the VNR industry varied.
Larry Moskowitz, president and CEO of Medialink, said there was little significance to the FCC's action.
"There is nothing new here," he said. "Because the [VNR] story got whipped up into a political football, the FCC is coming in to remind people."
Doug Simon, president and CEO of DS Simon Productions, said the FCC's reminder is the latest incident that has shown the importance of ethics in PR.
"If PR had made a better effort at self-regulation, I think there would be less of a risk for outside regulation," he said. "We need to clean up our act."
However, he added that the FCC reminder could be a positive thing for the industry in the short term because it stresses the importance of ethical behavior.
"My hope would be that it would continue to be another weapon in the arsenal to ensure proper practices by people in the PR industry," he said.