CN8, (TV Station)

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CN8 is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based cable television station. CN8 is available on Comcast cable systems throughout the U.S. east and northeast, reaching over nine million homes. [1]

Fake news

CN8 aired five video news releases (VNRs), according to the Center for Media and Democracy's November 2006 report, "Still Not the News: Stations Overwhelmingly Fail to Disclose VNRs." [2] The five pre-packaged videos were produced by PR firms on behalf of the following companies: Nelson's Rescue Sleep [3], General Mills (Wheaties) [4], Trend Micro [5], Allstate [6], and General Mills (Bisquick) [7]. Not once did CN8 disclose the source or nature of the sponsored video footage to their viewers. All five VNRs aired on the CN8 evening show "Art Fennell Reports."

The Fennell "newsmagazine" show premiered in early September 2006, replacing a 10 pm news show on CN8 (Tirdad Derakhshani, "In Brit docudrama, Bush is assassinated," The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 1, 2006).

Fake news fines

In September 2007, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission issued two notices of apparent liability, announcing its intention to fine Comcast $4000 for each of CN8's five undisclosed video news release (VNR) broadcasts documented in the Center for Media and Democracy's "Still Not the News" report [8], for a total of $20,000. [9]

In the first notice, for CN8's broadcast of the Nelson's Rescue Sleep VNR [10], the FCC said that the "extensive images and mentions of the product" triggered the need for VNR disclosure. [11] The second notice was for CN8's broadcast of the General Mills (Wheaties) [12], Trend Micro [13], Allstate [14], and General Mills (Bisquick) [15] VNRs. In it, the FCC broadened its explanation for the need for VNR disclosure, saying that "the VNR itself was the 'valuable consideration' provided to CN8." The second notice also faults CN8's broadcast of the four VNRs, saying their promotional content goes far beyond the acceptable "fleeting or transient references to products or brand names." [16]

In response to "questions about why the cable operator appeared at the front of the line of what could be numerous VNR decisions, particularly since a raft of complaints against others had been filed months before the ones against Comcast," FCC Chair Kevin Martin explained that Comcast was the only company that had not agreed to give the FCC more time to investigate the VNR complaints. Broadcasting & Cable quoted Martin as saying, "I believe Comcast had initially told our Enforcement Bureau that they would also agree to a tolling agreement [an extension for FCC investigations]. ... But then they decided they would not. So we were faced with a choice of issuing the NAL [notice of apparent liability] or allowing the time to lapse so we would never be able to take any enforcement action against them. And so, faced with that decision, we decided we would issue an NAL." [1]

Downsizing real news staff

In June 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, "More than 40 news staffers at CN8 in New Castle, Del., were laid off ... effective Aug. 28, as part of Comcast's plan to move away from local news and focus more on the region from Maine to Virginia" (Gail Shister, "CN8 lays off 40 from its news staff," June 30, 2006).

The layoffs were part of a broader plan for a September 2006 launch of "a revamped 24-hour cable news, entertainment and sports channel for the Northeast that focuses on regional coverage rather than local fare," reported Deborah Yao ("Comcast to unveil revamped cable news channel in September," Associated Press, July 1, 2006). "The network is adding one new show called 'Art Fennell Reports,' which will explore issues of interest in the region."

Station owner

Comcast Corporation

Contact details

CN8, The Comcast Network
1351 South Columbus Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone: 215.468.2222
Fax: 215.463.5922
Web: http://www.cn8.tv/

SourceWatch resources

References

  1. John Eggerton, "Martin Defends Comcast Place at Head of VNR Fine Line: Comcast Wouldn't Agree to 'Tolling Agreement' to Give FCC More Time," Broadcasting & Cable, October 2, 2007.

External links