Guidelines for Use of Non-Editorial Audio and Video
Television and radio stations should strive to protect the editorial integrity of the video and audio they air. This integrity, at times, might come into question when stations air video and audio provided to newsrooms by companies, organizations or governmental agencies with political or financial interests in publicizing the material. News staffs should find answers to the following questions when making decisions to broadcast video or audio produced and/or supplied by non-editorial sources.
RTDNA's Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct states that professional electronic journalists should clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders. The following guidelines are offered to meet this goal.
- News managers and producers should determine if the station is able to shoot this video or capture this audio itself, or get it through regular editorial channels, such as its network feed service. If this video/audio is available in no other way but through corporate release (as in the case of proprietary assembly line video), then managers should decide what value using the video/audio brings to the newscast, and if that value outweighs the possible appearance of product placements or commercial interests.
- News managers and producers should clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by corporate or other non-editorial sources. For example, graphics could denote Mercy Hospital video and the reporter or anchor script could also acknowledge it by stating, This operating room video was provided by Mercy Hospital.
- News managers and producers should determine if interviews provided with video/audio releases follow the same standards regarding conflicts of interest as used in the newsroom. For instance, some releases might contain interviews where subjects and interviewers are employed by the same organization. Consider whether tough questions were asked and if the subject was properly questioned.
- Before re-voicing and airing stories released with all their elements and intended for that purpose, managers and producers should ask questions regarding whether the editorial process behind the story is in concert with those used in the newsroom. Some questions to ask include whether more than one side is included, if there is a financial agenda to releasing the story, and if the viewers and/or listeners would believe this is work done locally by your team.
- Producers should question the source of network feed video that appears to have come from sources other than the networks news operation. Network feed producers should supply information revealing the source of such material.
- News managers and producers should consider how video/audio released from groups without a profit or political agenda, such as nonprofit, charitable and educational institutions, will be used in newscasts, if at all. Can this material add valuable insight to local stories? Has it been issued to be aired locally and credited to the issuing organizations. Will viewers find it to be useful information?
Developed by the RTDNA Ethics Committee
Non-editoral video, audio and other broadcast material may be covered by FCC rules:
FCC sponsorship identification rule, 47 C.F.R. 73.1212
May 13, 2005
Sec. 73.1212 Sponsorship identification; list retention; related requirements.
(a) When a broadcast station transmits any matter for which money, service, or other valuable consideration is either directly or indirectly paid or promised to, or charged or accepted by such station, the station, at the time of the broadcast, shall announce:
(1) That such matter is sponsored, paid for, or furnished, either in whole or in part, and
(2) By whom or on whose behalf such consideration was supplied: Provided, however, That ``service or other valuable consideration'' shall not include any service or property furnished either without or at a nominal charge for use on, or in connection with, a broadcast unless it is so furnished in consideration for an identification of any person, product, service, trademark, or brand name beyond an identification reasonably related to the use of such service or property on the broadcast.
(i) For the purposes of this section, the term ``sponsored'' shall be deemed to have the same meaning as ``paid for.''
(ii) In the case of any television political advertisement concerning candidates for public office, the sponsor shall be identified with letters equal to or greater than four percent of the vertical picture height that air for not less than four seconds.
(b) The licensee of each broadcast station shall exercise reasonable diligence to obtain from its employees, and from other persons with whom it deals directly in connection with any matter for broadcast, information to enable such licensee to make the announcement required by this section.
(c) In any case where a report has been made to a broadcast station as required by section 507 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, of circumstances which would have required an announcement under this section had the consideration been received by such broadcast station, an appropriate announcement shall be made by such station.
(d) In the case of any political broadcast matter or any broadcast matter involving the discussion of a controversial issue of public importance for which any film, record, transcription, talent, script, or other material or service of any kind is furnished, either directly or indirectly, to a station as an inducement for broadcasting such matter, an announcement shall be made both at the beginning and conclusion of such broadcast on which such material or service is used that such film, record, transcription, talent, script, or other material or service has been furnished to such station in connection with the transmission of such broadcast matter: Provided, however, That in the case of any broadcast of 5 minutes' duration or less, only one such announcement need be made either at the beginning or conclusion of the broadcast.
(e) The announcement required by this section shall, in addition to stating the fact that the broadcast matter was sponsored, paid for or furnished, fully and fairly disclose the true identity of the person or persons, or corporation, committee, association or other unincorporated group, or other entity by whom or on whose behalf such payment is made or promised, or from whom or on whose behalf such services or other valuable consideration is received, or by whom the material or services referred to in paragraph (d) of this section are furnished. Where an agent or other person or entity contracts or otherwise makes arrangements with a station on behalf of another, and such fact is known or by the exercise of reasonable diligence, as specified in paragraph (b) of this section, could be known to the station, the announcement shall disclose the identity of the person or persons or entity on whose behalf such agent is acting instead of the name of such agent. Where the material broadcast is political matter or matter involving the discussion of a controversial issue of public importance and a corporation, committee, association or other unincorporated group, or other entity is paying for or furnishing the broadcast matter, the station shall, in addition to making the announcement required by this section, require that a list of the chief executive officers or members of the executive committee or of the board of directors of the corporation, committee, association or other unincorporated group, or other entity shall be made available for public inspection at the location specified by the licensee under Sec. 73.3526 of this chapter. If the broadcast is originated by a network, the list may, instead, be retained at the headquarters office of the network or at the location where the originating station maintains its public inspection file under Sec. 73.3526 of this chapter. Such lists shall be kept and made available for a period of two years.
(f) In the case of broadcast matter advertising commercial products or services, an announcement stating the sponsor's corporate or trade name, or the name of the sponsor's product, when it is clear that the mention of the name of the product constitutes a sponsorship identification, shall be deemed sufficient for the purpose of this section and only one such announcement need be made at any time during the course of the broadcast.
(g) The announcement otherwise required by section 317 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, is waived with respect to the broadcast of ``want ad'' or classified advertisements sponsored by an individual. The waiver granted in this paragraph shall not extend to a classified advertisement or want ad sponsorship by any form of business enterprise, corporate or otherwise. Whenever sponsorship announcements are omitted pursuant to this paragraph, the licensee shall observe the following conditions:
(1) Maintain a list showing the name, address, and (where available) the telephone number of each advertiser;
(2) Make this list available to members of the public who have a legitimate interest in obtaining the information contained in the list. Such list must be retained for a period of two years after broadcast.
(h) Any announcement required by section 317(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, is waived with respect to feature motion picture film produced initially and primarily for theatre exhibition.
Note: The waiver heretofore granted by the Commission in its Report and Order adopted November 16, 1960 (FCC 60-1369; 40 F.C.C. 95), continues to apply to programs filmed or recorded on or before June 20, 1963, when Sec. 73.654, the predecessor television rule, went into effect.
(i) Commission interpretations in connection with the provisions of the sponsorship identification rules are contained in the Commission's Public Notice, entitled ``Applicability of Sponsorship Identification Rules,'' dated May 6, 1963 (40 F.C.C. 141), as modified by Public Notice, dated April 21, 1975 (FCC 75-418). Further interpretations are printed in full in various volumes of the Federal Communications Commission Reports.
[40 FR 18400, Apr. 28, 1975, as amended at 46 FR 13907, Feb. 24, 1981; 49 FR 4211, Feb. 3, 1984; 49 FR 33663, Aug. 24, 1984; 50 FR 32417, Aug. 12, 1985; 57 FR 8279, Mar. 9, 1992]