Video News Releases Could Be Bad For Families As Well

Why isn't TV news a family issue for TV pressure groups?

The Federal Communications Commission is investigating dozens of TV stations that used "video news releases" on local newscasts without disclosing which companies are backing these efforts.

Companies from General Motors, Intel, Pfizer and others were involved in these VNRs, as they are called. Station groups that aired VNRs, without disclosure, include Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tribune Co., CBS and News Corp.'s Fox.

Lobbyists and publicly minded entities have long targeted this issue--but we don't seem to hear from the conservative-minded TV pressure groups on this subject. You know, the ones that go after events such as Janet Jackson's revealing her breast, or prime-time shows deemed inappropriate for children, or Bono shouting a profane remark.

The message sent is this: sex and nudity and certain kinds of language are inappropriate on fictional shows--specifically prime-time shows. But apparently sex-laden news stories are quite okay in the real world--and, no less, aired in time periods that happen even earlier in the day, when kids are home.

You also wonder why few TV pressure family groups don't go after the daytime soaps or even the subject matter on Jerry Springer or Maury Povich. Not all kids are in school for the entire afternoon.

Maybe it's all about necessary commerce and advertising. The viewers and other backers of these pressure groups really need to see all those consumer product commercials from Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson running at full strength.

News, of course, is boring. Soaps can be boring as well. Better to attack a show like "Without a Trace" or anything on MTV. Latch onto those bigger, sexier brands to make your case and make the best headlines.

If indecency is the big issue here--how about setting an example to kids that being deceived by TV might also be indecent?

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