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It's About Time 

FCC To Crack Down on VNRs

In the "We didn't-really tell-you-so-but-hoped-it-would-happen" Department, the FCC ruled last week that TV broadcasters must disclose the origins of VNRs (video news releases) from government or corporations when used on public airwaves. As I mentioned March 23, the Bush administration has spent $254 million in taxpayer dollars to produce VNRs, which look like news reports but actually are designed to push the government's agenda.

Since the FCC didn't clearly spell out how a TV station should handle the disclosure of where a VNR comes from, some in Congress want to also require on-screen disclaimers that explain that the piece was produced by the US government.

Competitors of WCNC-TV have been miffed at the "We're number 1" voiceover promos that mention specific counties despite Channel 36's perennial number 3 ratings status.

We asked the station in January how they could make those claims, and director of creative services John Rice told me that the promos were "specific to a particular newscast day-part, and we are substantiating these based on either household rating in a particular county or key demographic rating in the county (which is adults aged 25-54)."

Since those ratings-slice claims were based on Nielsen numbers from February 2004, we'll be curious to see if WCNC-TV drops some of those, especially the "Number 1 newscast in Mecklenburg County" spot, since the February 2005 numbers show that's not true.

Competitors of WCNC-TV have been miffed at the station's "We're number 1" promos. Local singers have two television venues where they can warble, but they'll need to move quickly. WSOC-TV's Gimme the Mike will be back for a second summer season, and will be looking for singers 18 and over this weekend in Concord and Gastonia. Go to wsoctv.com for the skinny.

And the Charlotte-based Inspiration Network (www.insp.com) has extended registration for the third season of its Christian Artist Talent Search. This contest promises a national TV appearance and recording contract.

SO NOTED: WBTV has abandoned its three-anchors-standing-around format and has Maureen O'Boyle and Paul Cameron anchoring at 5 and 6pm, and new guy Jamie Boll paired with Tonia Bendickson at 5:30pm. Bendickson and Cameron will continue anchoring the 11pm newscast. WBTV staffers who shall remain nameless say the subpar February ratings book and the addition of more literal manpower in Boll has prompted the shift.

A Silver Telly Award goes to Light Ideas Productions in Tega Cay for its TV program on Cornelius sculptor Jon Hair, whose most recent work was a 30-feet tall sculpture for the US Olympic Committee.

Madden, a person with no last name and presumably not John, debuts as extra banana on the Ace & TJ Show on Kiss 95.1 May 1. Angie Fitzsimmons is leaving the AM show to move to Los Angeles.

Stay tuned.

E-Mail at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com

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