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November 19, 2006


Daniel Price

Hi Richard,

Just last week, the Center for Media and Democracy released a follow-up report on VNRs called "Still Not the News," in which an additional 33 VNRs were found to have been used in newscasts without proper attribution.

One of them was for FluLaval, a vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline. WJAR-10 (Providence, RI) turned the VNR into a health segment, covering all of the positives of FluLaval and yet ignoring over two minutes of "fair balance" safety information that came with the VNR.

You can find the whole report at The GlaxoSmithKline VNR is covered at

Just so you know, the FCC is still investigating the stations exposed in our first report. If they decide that these stations did indeed violate the Sponsorship Identification rules as set forth by the Federal Communications Act, it's entirely possible that these stations will be fined. Keep checking the Center's website ( for updates.

As the co-author of both VNR reports, I really appreciate your attention to this matter. Undisclosed VNRs are bad enough by themselves, but when they come from the medical/drug industry (as many of them do), they can be downright dangerous.

Richard Petty

Dear Daniel,

Thank you so much for the update.

Your reports have done us all a great service. You may have seen that I have also talked about medical correspondents who don't check their facts. I have seen two MDs on national television who - whether they knew it or not - repeated material that came directly from pharmaceutical companies.

It worries me that your findings seem to have received so little publicity. I mentioned that I found the article in the BMJ almost by chance.

I think that this shows the potential for blogs to do something useful in providing checks and balances in the provision of information about health, and I plan to raise your findings during my presentation at the Healthcare Blogging Summit in Washington next month.

Kind regards,


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