Press watchdog group criticizes Nova over drone coverage sponsorship

By Dru Sefton

FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), a progressive press watchdog group, is criticizing Nova over sponsorship issues surrounding its recent report, “Rise of the Drones.” The report was underwritten by Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the unmanned aircraft.

FAIR says that is a “clear violation of PBS’s underwriting guidelines.”

The program included comments from Abe Karem, known as “the father of the Predator” drone. His company has a business relationship with Lockheed Martin, FAIR said, citing reporting from a blog on FireDogLake, a collaborative progressive news site.

“The program’s sponsorship tie to the drone industry were never mentioned — though there were opportunities to disclose that relationship,” according to FAIR. “In addition to Lockheed Martin’s connection to one of the interview subjects, the show discussed a U.S. drone that was captured by Iran — without mentioning that it was manufactured by Nova‘s underwriter. And when Nova discusses the drones of the future, it’s talking about the kind of miniature drones Lockheed Martin is developing to provide ‘constant surveillance capabilities.’”

FAIR encouraged readers to contact PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler with their concerns. Getler told Current he has received more than 550 comments as of Tuesday morning.

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