For years, we’ve been hearing about big companies increasingly taking over the American news business, as well as media execs jumping into bed with government higher-ups, but this report about the federal government and major corporations actually producing and planting prepackaged “news” stories in outlets around the country raises the Big Brother threat level to at least Orange.
Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies’ products.
Investigators from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are seeking information about stations across the country after a report produced by a campaign group detailed the extraordinary extent of the use of such items.
The report, by the non-profit group Centre for Media and Democracy, found that over a 10-month period at least 77 television stations were making use of the faux news broadcasts, known as Video News Releases (VNRs). Not one told viewers who had produced the items.