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Friday, April 28, 2006

Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed

Diane Farsetta and Daniel Price, Center for Media and Democracy
April 6, 2006
 
This report includes:
Video footage [1] of the 36 video news releases documented in this report, plus footage showing how actual TV newscasts incorporated them and/or a related satellite media tours.
A map [2] showing the locations of the 77 television stations throughout the United States that aired this fake news.
An itemized list [3] of the 77 television stations that aired this fake news, by state.
In Brief
 
Over a ten-month period, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) documented television newsrooms' use of 36 video news releases [4] (VNRs)?a small sample of the thousands produced each year. CMD identified 77 television stations, from those in the largest to the smallest markets, that aired these VNRs or related satellite media tours [5] (SMTs) in 98 separate instances, without disclosure to viewers. Collectively, these 77 stations reach more than half of the U.S. population. The VNRs and SMTs whose broadcast CMD documented were produced by three broadcast PR firms for 49 different clients, including General Motors, Intel, Pfizer and Capital One. In each case, these 77 television stations actively disguised the sponsored content to make it appear to be their own reporting. In almost all cases, stations failed to balance the clients' messages with independently-gathered footage or basic journalistic research. More than one-third of the time, stations aired the pre-packaged VNR in its entirety.
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