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US: Congress to Force Agencies to Identify Fake News

May 3rd, 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional negotiators have agreed to bar government agencies for one year from issuing video news releases that do not clearly identify themselves as the source, Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd said on Tuesday.

Senate and House negotiators agreed to include the measure in an emergency spending bill banning the use of taxpayer dollars for producing the releases, which often resemble news segments, unless they include a written or audible notice.

"It is simply not right for administration departments and agencies to try to snooker the American people, producing propaganda and passing it off as legitimate news," the West Virginia lawmaker said in a statement.

Democratic Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey have introduced legislation to make the restriction permanent.

The Bush administration and congressional Democrats have been at war over the use of video news releases by government agencies. President Bush has said the onus is on broadcasters to identify the source of information.

Democrats and the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, have complained that some of the releases that did not include identification resembled covert propaganda.

A Bush administration representative was not immediately available for comment.

The House of Representatives will likely to pass the overall $82 billion spending bill this week and the Senate is expected to move next week.

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