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NBC has asked the campaign of former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney to stop running an ad featuring footage from a 1997 broadcast of NBC Nightly News. CNN reports the campaign used the ad without the network’s permission.
The 30-second ad entitled “History Lesson” shows former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw reporting on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reprimand by the House Ethics Panel. In the ad, Brokaw notes Gingrich rose to power by “preaching a higher standard” in politics, and that some members of Congress were now doubting his ability to be effective in the future.
“I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad,” Brokaw said in a statement. “I do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign.”
NBC lawyers told CNN they had made requests to other campaigns who had used their news reports without permission. In a letter to the Romney campaign, NBC’s vice president of media law, David N. Sternlicht, said the ad inappropriately suggested the network supported the political message behind the ad.
“Aside from the obvious copyright issues, this use of the voice of Mr. Brokaw and the NBC News name exploits him and the journalistic credibility of NBC News,” the letter said.
The Romney campaign said it believed its ad fell under the fair use exception to U.S. copyright law. Asked about Brokaw’s objections to the ad, Romney campaigner Eric Fehrnstrom emphasized the campaign’s esteem for the journalist.
“We respect him as a newsman who has a lot of credibility, but we believe this falls within fair use standards,” said Fehrnstrom.
The ad is being broadcast in Florida ahead of Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary. The Romney campaign has not indicated it will pull the add.
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