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The Phony Newscast has two particular uses. One is when a fictional program wants to appear to be an actual News Broadcast. The other is when a commercial for something is pretending to run a newscast related to the product.

Fictional Program

  • Mercury Theatre On The Air: The most famous episode was the October 30, 1938 broadcast, The War of the Worlds, which depicted a series of news bulletins covering an alien invasion by Martians interrupting the program of a generic big band performance. Adding to the realism was that the Mercury Theatre ran without commercial breaks, with no disclaimers (until the end). The program was said to have created widespread panic from thousands of listeners who believed an actual invasion was occurring – mostly, unsophisticated, uneducated viewers who were unable to reason that the sequence of events, as dramatized, was happening a little too fast (20 minutes from "explosions on Mars" to the "end of the world") or read the radio listings in their local newspaper promoting "War of the Worlds" as that night's dramatization. In any case, "War of the Worlds" cemented Orson Wells' fame as a radio/movie/TV broadcaster, writer and producer.
  • The Made for TV Movie Special Bulletin begins with what purports to be the opening of a daily lineup for a television network, and the first few seconds of a fictional game show, then cuts to what appears to be a news broadcast, where we eventually learn a group may have a nuclear weapon in a boat in Charleston harbor.
  • The movie RoboCop has a series of newscasts where horrible events are described during the news in an upbeat fashion, such as when a police officer is brutally gunned down. The reporter cheers on the cop, saying how he's rooting for the officer to live.
  • Elf
  • Starship Troopers: "Would you like to know more?"
  • The Made for TV Movie Without Warning presented an Alien Invasion in newscast form, even making the titles part of a home-invasion drama which is interrupted by the news.
  • The BBC often uses real news reporters for this.
    • It's quite common in the new Doctor Who.
    • A rather odd example: In Blackadder The Third, Vincent Hanna, who was then a BBC election correspondent, appeared as "his own great-great-grandfather", reporting on the Dunny-on-the-Wold by-election for The Country Gentleman's Pig Fertilizer Gazette. This was treated exactly as a TV broadcast, even though it was the 18th century. But that's how Blackadder works.
  • The DVD for the 2004 Dawn of the Dead 2004 remake includes fake newscasts. We see the Zombie Apocalypse spread, and the anchor becomes more and more disheartened.
  • The Dark Knight has newscasts during the film reporting on the Joker and the Batman; in the DVD extras you're treated to 4 fake in-depth newscasts about Gotham.
  • The 2004 Thunderbirds somehow manages to shoehorn a reporter into every scene in which the Thunderbirds appear in the outside world. No idea how anyone could consider this remotely plausible, since she'd have to have advance warning. Maybe the Hood tipped her off?
  • The Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet reinterprets the original play's prologue as a newscast.
  • Oil Storm, a 2005 mocumentary that aired on FX and Discovery, depicting a fictional oil crisis and what would happen as the result of the highly oil dependent United States facing a severe shortage. In the movie, a major hurricane destroys key oil infrastructure at Port Fourchon, Louisiana, percipitating a Murphy's Law series of events that snowball -- including a tanker collision in the narrow Port of Houston and terrorist attacks over the oil trade (including the destruction of the huge Ras Tanura oil refinery in Saudi Arabia). These events drive the price of oil to above $200 per barrel and gasoline to near $9 per gallon. The mockumentary follows several people, including the owners of a mom-and-pop convenience store, a paramedic, stock market and oil analysts, government officials and others, and includes a substantial amount of human drama from the first events to the resolution -- through diplomatic skill, the United States winning a $16 billion/year oil deal with Russia, which helps replace the oil lost in the earlier events.
  • One of the extras in the campaign mode of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is the Dominion's own news network, whose hilariously incompetent attempts to be a propaganda machine for Emperor Mengsk provide comic relief between missions.


  • A commercial for Stick-Ups room fresheners included a newscast introducing the product.
  • Huggies diapers have the "Baby News Network" ads.
  • The Sibuxiang Beast commercial which caused a minor panic in China: Museum of Hoaxes article on it
  • Sometimes, companies advertising a particular product sometimes use the "breaking news"/"this just in" technique to pitch said item – often, a credit service or medical product, along with contact information. Another commercial had a disc jockey use the "more music after the break" line before pitching a medical service and giving a testimonial (using a generic last name and identifying them as friends); during the commercial, the DJ rumples through paper to make it appear he's spontaneously searching for a telephone number to call (for listeners to obtain the service). While the idea is to catch unsuspecting audiences off-guard – making it appear as though the news anchors and "DJ" are legitimately part of their staff – it sometimes fails when, after the commercial, an actual jingle plays and the real DJ talks.
  • A British radio ad for cold remedies begins, "This is an important newsflash. We are under attack. I repeat, we are under ah... ah... ah... choo!"
  • Oh, if only the Internet were immune. "Breaking News! Britney's Weight Loss Secret Revealed!"
  • There has been at least one ad for mortgage refinancing made to look like a 24-hour news channel, complete with crawl.