Label This Newscast

How much labeling do we need on U.S. television programming?

Obviously a lot more.

Two Senate Democrats joined two public interest groups in asking the Federal Communications Commission to investigate TV news segments produced by the Bush Administration that have been aired on TV newscasts without viewers knowledge.

One public interest group executive has said that this "fake news" needs to be labeled - if it is to be used at all. Others question whether taxpayers unknowingly paid to have these video segments produced. Still, other questions concern TV newscasts' journalistic ethics in using these produced pieces.

What people want is a full disclosure. But why just stop there, limiting it to TV journalism? Already public interest groups have called for product integration deals to be labeled when used on reality and fictional TV shows - all to make sure TV viewers understand that a Burger King commercial produced by some TV shows contestants is a paid-for appearance from the fast food restaurant.



Perhaps things should go a bit further.

Maybe newscasters should list their political contributions at the end of the show. Maybe sportscasters should note that they played a pick-up game with Kobe Bryant. All this might influence their reports.

Critics have taken issue with some reality shows and documentaries - that some real-life storytelling has been altered to heighten the drama of a show. Perhaps that should be labeled as well.

Already we have pharmaceutical TV commercials asking viewers to read the latest magazines to find out more about side-efforts of specific drugs.

What we need is more disclosure to judge for ourselves. But if we are to do that, we need every bit of information possible. Perhaps viewers should have recommended or required reading before committing to a TV show - just as a safety precaution.

Sure it may slow down viewership and shave a few rating points but we'll have a better read, better educated TV public.

With all this reading, soon we won't need to turn on the TV newscasts at all - and those politically-slanted, federally-produced TV reports will no longer have an audience.

Next story loading loading..