Television stations are continuing to broadcast fake news, four years after the Center for Media and Democracy exposed the practice and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warned TV stations against using it. Public relations firms make videotaped fake TV news segments in which hired actors pose as "reporters" who tell "stories" about a product or service they want advertised. The PR firms then send these so-called video news releases (VNRs) to cash-strapped news rooms around the country, who broadcast them as though they were real news, without revealing that they are really advertisements. A 2006 CMD study titled Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed, exposed 123 TV stations across the country that were regularly airing VNRs without informing viewers that the spots were paid ads. Four years later, FCC has yet to take a firm stand on the practice, or crack down on new tactics that are emerging. Recently, advertisers have started hiring paid "experts" to appear on newscasts. A reporter will present a "story" about a product, and then hand the microphone to a paid spokesperson who gets a free platform to pitch the product. In some cases, stations have been paid over $10,000 for such a promotion. In one example, a TV station ran a "news story" about how well convertible cars were selling, but the segment featured only GM cars. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times confirmed the practice and warned viewers to be suspicious of self-proclaimed "consumer advocates" who appear on local TV news programs pitching cars, electronics, travel, toys and more.
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