Both considered 'bona fide newscasts'

It might come as news that talking about gossip or God on television qualifies as news.

The Federal Communications Commission has ruled as such in the cases of Fox’s “TMZ” and the Christian Broadcast Network’s “The 700 Club,” declaring Friday that each show meets the test for “a bona fide newscast” and therefore would not trigger political equal-time requirements.

Those requirements hold that “if a licensee allows a legally qualified candidate for public office to use a broadcast station, it must afford equal opportunities to other such candidates for that office,” according to FCC regs.

Congress defined “bona fide newscast” as one that holds “genuine news value” and is not intended to boost or aid any particular political candidate.

Celebrity ambulance-chaser “TMZ” argued that it contained genuine news value similar to that of “Entertainment Tonight,” which received bona fide newscast status in 1988.

The FCC also considers whether a program “reports news of some area of current events, in a manner similar to more traditional newscasts,” according to the agency. CBN argued “The 700 Club” does precisely that.

In both cases the commission agreed.

Ultimately, the beneficiaries of the FCC ruling are the broadcast stations and channels that carry the programs, since it is the stations (licensees) to which the equal-time requirements apply.

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