What's In Your Newscast?

Florida NBC affiliate scams its viewers with anti-scam VNR from Capital One

Submitted by Daniel Price on
Clients: Capital One
Release Date: November 2005
Aired By: 1 station
Disclosed By: No stations

On November 2, 2005, WBBH-2 in Ft. Myers, Flordia, aired a two-minute, seven-second segment on the rising threat of "elderfraud," which is when sophisticated criminals bilk vulnerable retirees out of their hard-earned savings. However, WBBH-2 committed journalistic fraud when the station failed to inform its viewers that the story was taken directly from a video news release (VNR) produced by the broadcast PR firm MultiVu and funded by Capital One.

The VNR was just one part of an extended campaign to make Capital One look like a bank that's truly concerned about an individual's financial security. Although the segment doesn't directly promote any specific product or service, it repeatedly manages to drop in the Capital One brand name, and refers viewers to an informational website that's co-sponsored by the bank.

To its credit, the VNR does contain useful tips for seniors on how to avoid scams, enough so that WBBH-2 might not have even been embarrassed by disclosing the true source of their news piece. Unfortunately, the station chose to disguise the VNR as their own journalistic product.

WBBH-2 ran the complete VNR without a single edit, leaving in the narrative voice of the MultiVu publicist. To help make the story look like a legitimate station report, editors inserted network-branded text and graphics onto the video.

See the original Capital One VNR, as well as the WBBH-2 news segment, below.

Original Capital One VNR WBBH-2 5PM newscast
Created by MultiVu November 2, 2005
Voiced by publicist Complete VNR with voice of publicist