National Association of Broadcast Communicators

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The National Association of Broadcast Communicators (NABC) is a consortium of broadcast public relations firms that produce video news releases. According to PR Week, NABC was formed in the summer of 2006 and is comprised of 15 PR firms, including Medialink Worldwide, MultiVu, KEF Media Associates, and D S Simon Productions. [1] (See "Members," below.) The stated purpose of the consortium is "to establish standards and guidelines for its member companies" and to "represent the broadcast PR profession before the broadcast industry, regulatory community, and PR industry." [2]

Membership Code

The NABC has a nine-point "Membership Code." The last point specifies, "any NABC member failing to comply with this Membership Code shall be subject to termination in the sole discretion of NABC, after appropriate due process, for a period deemed appropriate by NABC in light of the nature and scope of the violation." [3]

Other code points include: [4]

  • Affirming that "the appropriate use of VNRs is an important and integral part of the dissemination of information to the public";
  • Respecting "the First Amendment rights of their customers to use VNRs, as well as the First Amendment rights of individual broadcasters to exercise appropriate editorial control and discretion concerning their use of VNRs";
  • "Assisting all broadcasters in fully complying with the FCC’s news and program sponsorship requirements by including attribution and source identification information as required by FCC rules and policies";
  • Condemning "the payment of money or other valuable consideration to broadcasters in return for the broadcasting of VNRs, without disclosure as required by FCC regulations"; and
  • "Educating the public regarding the appropriate use of VNRs, consistent with FCC requirements and the First Amendment rights of broadcasters and NABC members’ customers."

History

In June 2006, PR Week reported, "Several broadcast PR companies are discussing plans to band together to fight the latest wave of public scrutiny of the sector. ... The action comes in the wake of news that the FCC is investigating VNR use by news stations, spurred by a recent report from the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that showed several news stations didn't disclose the corporate origins of VNRs." The June 1 story stated, "The group first met last week." [5]

Medialink Worldwide CEO Larry Moskowitz told PR Week, "If the FCC is considering an inquiry, we've got to take that seriously." He explained that the new group "is considering reaching out to industry organizations such as the PRSA (the Public Relations Society of America), the Counselors Academy, and the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA). He added that the group could branch out to fringe associations, such as freedom of speech and democracy groups and the Motion Picture Association of America. 'We're communicating pretty regularly to come up with a common voice and ensure that the details of our position are aligned,' he said." [6]

"What concerns VNR producers," according to PR Week, "is that the CMD could ask the FCC to require an on-screen, continuous disclaimer of a video's source, something which broadcast PR companies view as a violation of the First Amendment." Moskowitz remarked, "TV as we know it couldn't exist without third-party material." [7]

By October 2006, again according to PR Week, the group had "already established a membership structure and a set of bylaws," as well as a name, the "National Association of Broadcast Communicators" (NABC). NABC, along with PRSA, plan "to issue a joint statement of support for the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA)'s stance on the latest FCC/VNR controversy," PR Week reported. [8] The overlap between the organizations involved and the possible partners named earlier by Moskowitz is noteworthy.

On October 12, 2006, PR Week editorialized in favor of the NABC, noting that "broadcast companies have been damaged by the ongoing controversy" over VNRs and that "the broadcast PR industry has been finding ways to compensate for the drop-off in classic VNR work by focusing increasingly on radio, on-demand digital news rooms, and other platforms." The PR Week editorial expressed hope that NABC "can properly mobilize on the threats to the industry." [9]

Response to "Fake TV News" Study and FCC Investigation

NABC's first statement was released in conjunction with the Public Relations Society of America, O'Dwyer's PR Daily reported, on October 13, 2006. The statement claimed that CMD's "Fake TV News" report "creates the false impression that numerous broadcast stations across the country are violating FCC rules." (In August 2006, the FCC launched an investigation of the 77 TV stations named in the report.) The NABC statement said broadcast PR firm have the "professional responsibility to faithfully inform broadcasters of the true origins" of VNRs, but broadcasters should "disclose the sources of those materials to the public in the best way they see fit" - or not. [10]

The NABC statement, available on their website, also states:

The NABC and the PRSA have independently addressed the issue of disclosure with their respective members and with the individuals involved in the professions they represent. All have stated clearly and emphatically that the public has a right to know the sources of all information coming over the public airwaves -- even that which is outside the parameters of paid, political or controversial content. ... These groups are best equipped to reinforce those principles on a peer-to-peer basis.

On October 16, 2006, NABC's counsel, the Washington DC law firm Keller and Heckman, filed a comment with Federal Communications Commission chair Kevin J. Martin. The NABC filing claims, "The CMD Report grossly mischaracterizes the Commission's sponsorship identification requirements and in the process unfairly tarnishes a host of broadcasters along with the entire VNR industry. ... NABC supports the FCC's efforts to ensure compliance with the sponsorship identification requirements. As described by [the Radio-Television News Directors Association's October 5 filing with the FCC] and in press reports, however, CMD's unfounded accusations and the Commission's subsequent investigation have created a severe chilling effect in the broadcast community that is not supported by the Commission's rules or the public interest." [11]

Personnel

Members

According to PR Week: [12]

Lobbyists

"NABC has retained the law firm of Keller and Heckman in Washington, DC, and lobbying firm Bryan Cave Strategies to advise it on the FCC situation," reported PR Week in October 2006. [13]

In January 2007, the National Journal reported that NABC's "Washington representatives" were "law firm Keller and Heckman and lobbyist Steve Elmendorf, then with Bryan Cave Strategies."

Contact Information

Website: http://www.broadcastcommunicators.org/

The NABC contact for media, membership or partnership inquiries is Michael Hill, phone (212) 684-8910, email MikeH(AT)NewsBroadcastNetwork.com

SourceWatch Resources

External links

NABC Media Releases & Commentary

General Articles