The Senate Commerce Committee has given unanimous consent of the “Prepackaged News Story Announcement Act of 2005."
The legislation requires that all prepackaged, government-produced news stories — which are designed to be indistinguishable from those created by independent news organizations — include disclaimers notifying the audience that the government produced or funded the news segment. Click here for a copy of the bill as reported.
The Committee unanimously approved a substitute amendment, negotiated by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), John Kerry (D-MA) and Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK), replacing the "Truth in Broadcasting Act," which was introduced by Lautenberg and Kerry earlier this year.
The amended legislation includes the following provisions:
·- Establishes that prepackaged news stories produced by the government must include a clear notification to the audience that the United States Government prepared or funded the segment.
-· Defines “prepackaged news story” as a complete, ready-to-use audio or video news segment designed to be indistinguishable from those produced by an independent news organization.
--Instructs the FCC to determine the circumstances under which the disclaimer may be removed or modified.
·- Clarifies that the bill’s provisions do not apply to the government’s authorized, legal intelligence activities.
The legislation is moving forward on the heels of a decision from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, which earlier this month found that the Bush Administration's use of pre-packaged news stories — most notably undocument video news releases used by the Education and Health & Human Services Departments — were "covert propaganda," and in violation of "governmentwide" anti-propaganda rules.
President Bush has offered three different opinions on the administration's use of propaganda, most recently suggesting that rather than the government disclosing itself as the author of propaganda, "it's incumbent upon people who use them to say, 'this news clip was produced by the federal government.'"
Passage of this legislation would make the government responsible for its actions, rather than Bush's pass-the-buck scenario.
This item first appeared at Journalists Against Bush's B.S.