FCC Blasts TV Over Non-Disclosure

  FCC Blasts TV Over Non-Disclosure

Posted by FoM on December 27, 2000 at 14:11:32 PT
By D. Ian Hopper, Associated Press Writer 
Source: Newsday 

TV networks should have identified the White House as a sponsor of several popular prime-time programs with anti-drug messages since the government paid $25 million for the right to approve scripts, regulators say in a ruling sought by marijuana supporters.The Federal Communications Commission said ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the WB network were obligated to make viewers of the shows aware that they had received money from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
''Listeners and viewers are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded,'' the FCC said, citing the 1927 Radio Act. ''The language of the statute is very broad, requiring sponsorship identification if any type of valuable consideration is directly or indirectly paid or promised, charged or accepted.''The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which brought the case to the FCC, said Wednesday it was ''reasonably happy'' with the decision that the commission issued late last Friday.''It puts the incoming drug czar on notice,'' said NORML executive director Keith Stroup. ''At least the next time around, if they're going to spend taxpayer money to try to influence the content of programming, that fact is going to have to be included on the programming.''The television networks did not return calls Wednesday for comment.The arrangement stemmed from Congress' 1997 approval of a program to buy anti-drug ads on TV. Networks were required to match each dollar spent by the federal government, either with free ads or in other ways, such as demonstrating that some of their programs convey anti-drug messages.At a hearing on Capitol Hill in February, ABC presented snippets from programs such as ''The Practice,'' ''Sports Night'' and ''The Drew Carey Show'' which carried such anti-drug messages.Other shows that received government review included ABC's ''General Hospital'' and ''Home Improvement,'' Fox's ''Beverly Hills 90210'' and the CBS shows ''Chicago Hope'' and ''Cosby.''ABC officials asserted that they submitted plot summaries and cassettes only after the shows had aired. A CBS representative at the hearing said his network initially submitted some scripts before they were aired, but only to get a ''yes'' or ''no'' answer on whether they were eligible for the credits -- not for the purpose of inviting edits from the White House.Shortly after the relationship came to light, the Office of National Drug Control Policy set new guidelines to ensure that the government will no longer look at scripts before the program is finished. A spokesman for the White House drug office did not return a call for comment.On the Net:Federal Communications Commission: http://www.fcc.govOffice of National Drug Control Policy: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.govNational Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws: http://www.norml.orgSource: Newsday (NY)By D. Ian Hopper, Associated Press WriterPublished: December 27, 2000Copyright: 2000, Newsday Inc.Address: 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville NY 11747Fax: (516) 843-2986Contact: letters newsday.comWebsite: Articles:FCC Slaps Anti-Drug TV Shows May Be Overbilled in Drug Campaign Czar Attacked on Media Campaign for Dollars 

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Comment #1 posted by Dan Hillman on December 28, 2000 at 10:51:54 PT

anti-drug info-war transcends politics
> Other shows that received government review included ABC's ''General Hospital'' and ''Home Improvement,'' Fox's ''Beverly Hills 90210'' and the CBS shows ''Chicago Hope'' and ''Cosby.''That sentence made me do a double take. Those words: "shows that received government review". Savor those words for a moment. "government review". The supposedly liberal Clinton administration's ONDCP reviews TV shows to compensate those which toe the government line the most obediently. Know what? US "conservatives" who rail endlessly about "government interference" will steadfastly refuse to notice that the government is vetting the very entertainment going out to the masses. Good ole' Rush Limbaugh will continue to excercise his well-developed blind spot (thus setting the tone for *all* right-wing pundits) and simply refuse to notice, mention, or much less *complain* about this most "soviet" of US government actions.  Allow me to distill the point here: US conservatives will continue to admire, praise and most importantly, *fund* this kind of gov-agit-prop-think as long as the prison-industrial state benefits.
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