Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

ABC Pulls Plug on "Welcome to the Neighborhood"

Variety is reporting that ABC has decided not to air its new reality show "Welcome to the Neighborhood", a summer replacement for the popular series "Desperate Housewives." The series was supposed to make its debut July 10 in "Housewives"' regular Sunday night timeslot, but opposition from groups, some of which hadn't seen all the episodes caused the network to rethink its support of the controversial show, which featured a competition among people "in different social classes and ethnic groups" vying for a house in "a white, upper-middle class Texas community." Some groups thought the show violated fair housing laws. Others criticized what they saw as unfair portrayals of residents of the community as bigoted and unwelcoming. The show is not featured on ABC's website. It is not clear what if anything ABC plans to substitute for "Welcome to the Neighborhood."

Read Variety's story here. (subscription may be required).

June 30, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

National Academy of Sciences Publishes Paper on Vulnerability of Milk Supply After Considering Objections from HHS, Others

Two Stanford scientists have published a paper discussing the vulnerability of the nation's milk supply even though officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security and others raised concerns about whether their work offered too many suggestions to terrorists about how to attack the health and safety of U. S. citizens and residents. The scientists met with officials, discussed their concerns, but went ahead with the publication, saying that the background information is already generally available.

Download the NAS paper here. Also available is an editorial by NAS President Bruce Alberts explaining the timeline of the original embargo, the guidelines followed in considering whether to proceed with publication, and emphasizing the importance of balancing heightened national security against continued scientific openess and debate.

June 29, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

German Critics Protest WOTW Review Embargo

German film critics are protesting Paramount Pictures' embargo on reviews of War of the Worlds, the new Spielberg/Cruise blockbuster. While Paramount has traditionally maintained review embargoes on upcoming releases, the policy has been extended in the case of WOTW: the studio asked critics to sign a waiver stating that they would not publish reviews until the film had been released in their countries. Critics in other countries have seemed to go along. However, angry German reviewers stated the policy violates their constitutional rights and say they will continue to resist such embargoes. U. S. critics traditionally tend to go along with such a policy. Note that both Variety and Hollywood Reporter have already released reviews. See here and here.

See coverage of the German reaction here. See the Paramount website for WOTW and release dates here. (Note: it comes with sound effects).

June 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Former Sacramento Bee Journalist's Stories Under Investigation

Various outlets are reporting that stories turned in over a twelve year period by former Sacramento Bee journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Diana Griego Erwin have been investigated by executive editor Rick Rodriguez and his staff. Rodriguez said Sunday the paper could not verify that more than 40 sources Griego Erwin quoted actually existed.

According to the Bee's own story, published on Sunday, June 26, among the things that were unusual about Griego Erwin's pieces was that the people she wrote about had such singular names or identifying characteristics that they should have been easy to find. One was "Victor Budriyev", but no such person appeared to live in the U.S. according to a Google search. A retired teacher named Margaret Brown did not show up in the state's list of retired teachers. Shortly before she left the paper in May, Griego Erwin was asked to provide contact information for four of her sources.The paper was unable to verify the existence of the individuals she named. Alarmed, the staff continued its inquiry, resulting in the report published on the 26th.

Read the Sacramento Bee's story, and Rick Rodriguez's letter to readers, here (registration required). Read an interview with Griego Erwin here.

Read the Washington Post's story here. An Editor & Publisher story dated May 12, 2005 covered Griego Erwin's departure and the original announcement concerning the Bee's investigation. Read it here.

June 28, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Supreme Court Decides National Cable v. Brand X

In a 6-3 decision the Supreme Court has ruled that cable providers do not have to allow ISPs to use their services. The Court found that the FCC acted within its discretion in deciding to classify "high speed Internet connections" as non-telephonic. "... if the Act fails unambiguously to classify non-facilities-based information-service providers that use telecommunications inputs to provide an information service as "offer[ors]" of "telecommunications," then it also fails unambiguously to classify facilities-based information-service providers as telecommunications-service offerors; the relevant definitions do not distinguish facilities-based and non-facilities-based carriers. That silence suggests, instead, that the Commission has the discretion to fill the consequent statutory gap."

The case, National Cable and Telecommunications Assn. v. Brand X,  is available here.

June 27, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Denies Cert in Miller/Cooper Cases

The Supreme Court has denied cert in the Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper cases. See CNN coverage here.  Miller, a New York Times reporter, and Cooper, who works for Time magazine, now face sentences of up to 18 months in jail for refusing to divulge the name of sources to a federal grand jury. The two journalists had variously claimed that the First Amendment, the federal common law and state shield laws supported their right to protect the names of their informants but the lower courts had held against them.

June 27, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)