RTNDA Slams VNR Study, FCC Investigation


The Radio-Television News Directors Association says some of the allegations in a study released by the Center for Media and Democracy and Free Press citing more unidentified VNR's are "inaccurate or represent isolated incidents made in error and at variance with station policies that are consistent with RTNDA’s guidelines."

The study found that 46 stations had aired video news releases without identifying them, including some repeat offenders from an April report identifying 77 stations running VNRs without labeling the source.

RTNDA said in a statement late Tuesday that it had not reviewed all the findings, but that even if the allegations are true, "it provides no credible basis upon which the FCC can justify the extraordinary step of inserting itself into broadcast newsrooms and questioning their exercise of editorial discretion."

The FCC launched an inquiry after the April report, with Democratic commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein particularly vocal in their criticisms of stations. the two commissioners were on a teleconference set up by Free Press and CMD to announce the follow-up study, and again pushed the FCC to investigate. Free Press wants that investigation to include looking into the possible relationship of the proliferation of VNRs with media consolidation.

RTNDA took note of the commissioners' presence with some concern: "It is particularly troublesome to RTNDA...that two FCC Commissioners joined CMD in today’s press conference praising the report. 

"Both Commissioner Michael Copps and Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein suggested that an investigation of each of these 46 television stations would be launched imminently, and that the FCC’s investigation of 77 stations named in a previous CMD report would continue despite RTNDA’s call for its halt."