Jonathan S. Adelstein

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Jonathan S. Adelstein is a Democratic Commissioner of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Adelstein was first sworn in as FCC Commissioner in December 2002 and was subsequently renominated for a second term in late 2004. According to his biographical note, "Before joining the FCC, Adelstein served for fifteen years as a staff member in the United States Senate. For the last seven years, he was a senior legislative aide to United States Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), where he advised Senator Daschle on telecommunications, financial services, transportation and other key issues."

For VNR disclosure

In April 2005, he and fellow Commissioner Michael J. Copps wrote in support of the clear labelling of video news releases (VNRs). In his statement in support of the FCC Public Notice on VNRs, Adelstein wrote, "It'??s high time for the FCC to remind broadcasters and others subject to our sponsorship identification rules that they have a legal obligation to let their viewers know when they run stories from someone else." [1] (PDF file)

"People have a legal right to know the real source when they see something on TV that is disguised as 'news.' We are already seeing public confidence in the news dropping quickly, and this step should help restore confidence," he continued.

"The laws we are charged to enforce focus on the need for broadcasters and others subject to the rules to disclose the source of material they put on the air. It would be up to Congress if it chooses to further strengthen the responsibilityof government agencies to disclose more fully that material is government-produced," he concluded.

In an October 2007 interview, Adelstein was asked, "Why should broadcasters have to identify the sources of nonpolitical VNRs they don’t pay for?" He responded: [2]

Somebody did, in fact, pay for it, and they didn’t pay the production bills out of the goodness of their hearts.
Under the law, any valuable consideration up or down the chain of production requires disclosure. Even nonpolitical VNRs can be deceptive if they lead consumers to believe a segment to be honestly researched when, in fact, it was produced by a third party with a commercial or governmental self-interest.
It is unfortunate if some broadcasters and cable operators are unwilling to disclose when segments are produced by an outside party, even though disclosure is standard ethics practice, according to the Radio-Television News Directors Association. What are they trying to hide? Disclosure is the best policy.


But they're [the airwaves] supposed to be used for the public interest. And we're seeing less and less concern by broadcasters about the public interest and more and more it's all about the bottom line. [...] There's a small handful of companies, maybe five or six, that control 75% of what people see or hear in the media. --Mobilizing Media Reform, Free Press.

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