OBAMA ASSEMBLING DE FACTO PROPAGANDA MINISTRY. DO YOU BELIEVE IT?
OBAMA ASSEMBLING DE FACTO
By Steve Peacock
The U.S. State Department is planning to “buy” media
broadcasts, as the Obama administration assembles a de facto propaganda
machine, according to documents that reveal the president’s plans moving closer
to the 2012 election.
to information WND located via routine database research, State’s Bureau of
Public Affairs is soliciting the help of “global news coverage service
providers” to create and disseminate department “news.”
selected contractor will provide “full-time, 24/7 service,” the Statement of Work for the plan said.
department seeks a service provider for full, turn-key news-style global
television coverage of ad hoc open press events featuring the Secretary of
State and other officials across the United States and throughout the
world,” according to the SOW, “and to send this content back to the
department’s Washington headquarters…”
receiving these privately packaged productions, the department, in turn, “will
distribute this video content to media organizations through an array of
traditional and new media platforms.”
just as the department is awaiting contractor bids on the project, Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton’s representative at the World Press Freedom Day in Tunisia heaped accolades upon
UNESCO for hosting the annual event.
“tweet” from Tunisia, Assistant Secretary
of State for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer said, “I applaud
the tireless, continuing work of #UNESCO in promoting the ideals of free and
delivered remarks on behalf of the Obama administration during the opening
ceremony, along with presenting a video speech from Clinton.
to the Arab Spring demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa,
Clinton said, according to a prepared statement, “Voice by voice, text by text,
Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and many others have dared to say what they
believe and stand up for their own rights.
others have dared to report on what they see happening, even when their lives
were at risk.”
State Department plan is twofold: to hire a single contractor to provide
television news crew services on the one hand, and to provide
transmission/streaming services as a corollary service.
television news crew category is both one and two-person crews, and includes
one and multi-camera productions,” the SOW pointed out. “The transmission
category includes both traditional fiber, terrestrial and satellite-based as
well as file-based and Internet delivery platforms.”
use of such government- as well as industry-funded broadcasts, known as “video
news releases,” or VNRs, has increasingly come under fire in the past decade.
“are segments designed to be indistinguishable from independently produced news
reports that are distributed and promoted to television newsrooms,” according
to Source Watch, a Center for Media and Democracy project that chronicles the
intersecting of public relations and public policy.
General Accountability Office – the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress – in
2005 declared that several federal entities, such as the Department of
Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, may have violated
the law by disseminating VNRs as fact-based news reports.
to the GAO’s findings, the “Stop Government Propaganda Act” was introduced to
rein in and punish such activities; it died, however, after being introduced in
the Senate Judiciary Committee.
of VNR distribution claim that use of the video products is wholly legitimate.
The Public Relations Society of America is that a VNR simply is “the video
equivalent of a press release.”
organization does advocate that industry members abide by certain
parameters to ensure the integrity of VNR usage:
Organizations that produce VNRs should clearly identify the VNR
as such and fully disclose who produced and paid for it at the time the VNR is
provided to TV stations.
PRSA recommends that organizations that prepare VNRs should not
use the word “reporting” if the narrator is not a reporter.
Use of VNRs or footage provided by sources other than the
station or network should be identified as to source by the media outlet when
it is aired.
congressional refusal to crack down on VNRs, the Federal Communications Commissionissued a reminder to
licensees of their sponsor-identification requirements under the Communications
Act or 1934. Rather than holding liable the creators of the reports, the
commission has placed the burden of disclosure on who ultimately airs the VNR.
rules are grounded in the principle that listeners and viewers are entitled to
know who seeks to persuade them with the programming offered over broadcast
stations and cable systems,” the FCC said.
such VNRs are aired, “licensees and operators generally must clearly disclose
to members of their audiences the nature, source and sponsorship of the
material that they are viewing.”
the FCC continues to enforce these rules, the penalties arguably have been
year, for instance, it issued a forfeiture order to Fox Television Stations,
Inc. when station affiliate KMSP-TV of Minneapolis used – but failed to
identify – a General Motors-provided VNR during a news broadcast.
other VNR-related enforcement actions, in 2007 it imposed a $4,000 fine on
Comcast Corp. for also violating the sponsorship disclosure rules. Comcast’s
CN8 news affiliate in that case had aired aVNR produced on behalf of Nelson’s Rescue Sleep.
The FCC soon after separately slapped a $16,000 forfeiture against Comcast for
airing two VNRs from General Mills and Allstate, respectively.
State Department through May 21 is reviewing contractor proposals in response
to the new solicitation. It did not disclose the estimated cost of the
endeavor, for which it will award a year contract with four one-year options.
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