TV Station Hit With $115,000 Penalty For Airing Bogus 'Special Report' Ads
December 5, 2014 at 3:23 PM (PT)
Broadcasters are supposed to identify paid content as commercials, but one TV station's failure to do so led to the FCC levying a big fine.
JOURNAL BROADCAST CORP. ABC affiliate KTNV-TV/LAS VEGAS was hit with a $115,000 penalty in a settlement that includes the filing of compliance reports within three months and then every year for three years. The station aired "special reports" that were styled as news reports about liquidation sales at local car dealers, including a station staffer posing as a Channel 13 reporter. The "reports" were actually paid for by the car dealerships and arranged by their ad agency, but the station did not disclose that fact on the air.
Enforcement Bureau Chief TRAVIS LEBLANC said, “Broadcasters are not allowed to deceive the public by presenting commercial announcements or other paid programming in the guise of news or editorial content. Transparency is especially crucial in a situation like this one where a pseudo news report invites viewers to rely on their perception of the station’s independence and objectivity when, in fact, the message has been bought and paid for by an undisclosed third party.”