Florida Court: Broadcasters Have Right to Lie


| March 10, 2003


A Florida appeals court has overturned a jury verdict against FOX Television for attempting to force two reporters to falsify and distort a 1996 report on the effects of bovine growth hormone (BGH). According to a statement from the Organic Consumers Association, the husband-wife investigative team of Jane Akre and Steve Wilson had spent nearly a year battling with station officials at WTVT in Tampa, Florida, over the content of their BGH report. The award-winning reporters were eventually fired ?without cause? when they refused to make certain changes that would have clearly distorted the report. They filed suit in 1998 under the Federal Communications Act and the Florida whistle-blower protection law. While Wilson lost his case, a jury awarded Akre $425,000 in 2001 for wrongful termination. The appeals court overturned that verdict on a legal technicality, accepting FOX?s argument (which had previously been rejected six times by three different judges) that the FCC?s news distortion policy was not a ?law, rule, or regulation,? and that Akre therefore did not have a proper claim to whistle-blower protection. Akre and Wilson won the 2002 Goldman Environmental Prize for their efforts to bring their story to light. While the court did not dispute the facts of the case, FOX claims it was ?totally vindicated? by the verdict.
-Leif Utne

Go there>>http://organicconsumers.org/rbgh/akre022103.cfm

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