FCC Commissioner Adelstein Issues Fake News Challenge

FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein"We need to fight one of [media consolidation's] most pernicious symptoms, I think, which is the increasing commercialization of media," the Federal Communications Commission's Jonathan Adelstein told an audience of nearly two thousand at the National Conference on Media Reform. Adelstein listed as examples "thinly disguised payola" and "video news releases, masquerading as news." Also guilty of commercializing media are "PR agents pushing political and commercial agendas, squeezing out real news coverage and local community concerns" and product placements, which are "turning news and entertainment shows alike into undisclosed commercials for an unwitting public," he said.

In his speech during the conference's Saturday night keynote event, the commissioner recognized an issue the Center for Media and Democracy and Free Press, the non-partisan media reform group that organized the conference, are campaigning against - fake news. Adelstein issued a challenge to the audience to be "the troops that can and will call corporate media to account."

To do this, Adelstein said, "One, if you see a video news release, if you see a product placement or if you see a news segment that looks a lot like an advertisement, hit the record button on your VCR or your TiVO. Number two, watch the whole thing and check if there is a disclosure at the end or anywhere in the broadcast. If not, it may be payola and that's a violation of the law and FCC rules. Number three, if you catch them red-handed, send a formal complaint to the FCC and be sure to send a copy to me. Because we'll get it investigated."

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"We need you to monitor it," Adelstein said. "We're going to shut down this fraud that is being perpetrated on the American people by the media. And you're the ones to do it."

For more information on fake news and to learn how to get involved in the fight against it, visit our No Fake News page.