Microsoft, Red Cross and UN sucked into global news fixing scam

“Microsoft has been sucked into the row surrounding a London-based media company currently under investigation by broadcasters for making editorial programmes without declaring it had a commercial relationship with some of those it featured,” Ian Burrell reports for The Independent.

“Both the BBC and the US-owned broadcaster CNBC are investigating FBC Media following an investigation by The Independent which showed it had made numerous factual programmes about Malaysia after being allocated millions of pounds by the country’s government to promote it,” Burrell reports. “This newspaper has evidence that Microsoft was “guaranteed” coverage on a flagship programme which FBC was commissioned to make for CNBC – which is screened in Britain – for a major launch that the global technology company was planning in Europe. CNBC recently suspended the show, World Business, pending the outcome of its investigation.”

“The Independent has seen a nine-page letter written to Microsoft’s senior communications managers, in which FBC promised coverage of its opening of the European Microsoft Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, and a second project in St Petersburg, Russia,” Burrell reports. “The document referred to World Business under the heading ‘FBC Guaranteed Distribution Placement.'”

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Burrell reports, “It told Microsoft: ‘Our flagship programme, World Business, is a weekly half-hour business news magazine, which covers the trends shaping business, particularly from a European perspective. We can foresee placing coverage of the Aachen opening within the programme the weekend of May 1&2, which means guaranteed placement on CNBC Europe, PBS-TV in the US, Star World Asia and 12 national broadcast markets in Western and Eastern Europe.’ PBS is America’s public service broadcaster and Star World is part of Rupert Murdoch’s global News Corp media empire… Last night CNBC said: ‘We have suspended all broadcasts of the World Business programme indefinitely. We cannot comment further for legal reasons.'”

“The FBC letter to Microsoft, dated 2 March 2004, is jointly authored by John Defterios, until recently FBC’s former Group Vice President for Content and host of CNBC’s World Business between 2000 and 2007,” Burrell reports. “He is now a presenter on the global news network CNN. The document is set out as a “proposal outlining the broadcast/production strategy” for Microsoft’s European initiatives, which included a good news story of Microsoft working with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Red Cross to provide technology for refugees.”

Many more sordid details in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Deceit is permanently ingrained within Microsoft’s DNA.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “justin time” for the heads up.]

16 Comments

    1. Just because you don’t understand that the scope of this site is whatever MDN’s editors decide the scope to be, there’s no reason to make a fool of yourself in the reader feedback.

    2. Most regulars here live by the motto: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” It’s always useful to know what the Dark Side is doing and what latest devious mess they’ve gotten themselves into.

  1. memo from 7 years ago implies this is long standing practice…. should we be surprised? Isn’t private media just big business?
    I was somewhat surprised to see PBS indirectly implicated.
    Product placements within Hollywood movies has been a practice for decades. Also video games, so it comes as no surprise that “news” isnt exempt either.

  2. Though the news people at NPR and PBS are careful to avoid such conflicts of interest, the business people at PBS stations have taken to using such programs. It costs less to run this informercial posing as news crap than it is to make original programming. In the current economic climate, it’s not easy to avoid money offered from companies with illicit agendas who don’t admit to them such nonsense is going on. What’s remarkable is how obvious it is such programs are crap, and business people can’t see it. And journalists are powerless to stop it because the business people call the shots.

    Thus, business is what’s destroying the country. Not anyone else. Because short-term greed and a lack of ethics when it comes to whoring their credibility for a buck is the trend nearly everywhere.

      1. True. There is nothing more one sided than NPR and PBS. They absolutely twist the facts until they fit the story. This is all done with our tax dollars to fund it! I’m careful not to say which direction these two lean. I find that like most people I vary in my political opinions by issue. I think NPR is even more prejudice than PBS. And that’s really saying something! CNN,CNBC,MSNBC and Fox all have a slant to their coverage and that’s a shame. But they’re not public media. I just can’t believe congress continues to fund these two.

    1. NPR and PBS are careful to avoid conflicts of interest?

      Eric, stop smoking that peyote right now. You obviously can’t handle it.

      I’m now a multimillionaire precisely because these publicly-funded leftist joke outfits are biased and tainted beyond all repair.

  3. I just want to note that it was the “News” production company, FBC, that was deceitful, not Microsoft. MS did,
    indeed, participate in those trade shows. It was FBC who lied in foisting it off as important business news.

  4. I could chuckle, but the truth is that pay-to-play is very common in the TV and print news media. I have a background in public relations, advertising and marketing, and from personal experience, most of what we see on business and technology news television shows was spoon fed to the networks (and newspaper business/technology sections) from PR firms on behalf of corporate customers.

    Many of the TV news segments are produced by PR firms and sent to the TV networks like CNBC which they then use as part of their regular video reporting. Most of the content you see on the business channels on the airlines you fly is all done this way, but in that case, you pay to have your company promoted on the airline business channels.

    What makes this different is that this was overtly paid for by the companies accused in the article above. But the truth is that without PR firms handing content over to the newspapers, magazines, bloggers, websites, radio and TV networks, there would be little reporting done.

    What readers do not understand is that behind the headlines, there is a war going on every day, with PR firms at the front lines battling for influence and exposure for their clients. Some years ago, I read that Microsoft has over 500 people either directly employed or working in PR firms on the company’s behalf every day to plant positive news stories and get interviews as well as refute negative news about the company. Apple is likely no different.

    Mind you, this is different than the practice outlined above. But know that PR influence for companies like Apple is a big business. In fact, that’s where most of the news on this site originates.

    It’s something to think about. Whether you know it or not, what you read, see and hear is all very carefully targeted toward influencing your thinking, opinions and buying behavior.

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