Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Viacom, Time Warner Cable Argue Over Fees; Explain THAT to Your Family's Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer Fans

Cable subscribers in the Southeast, New York, southern California, and Texas may be the victims of a battle between Viacom and Time Warner Cable over fees. Viacom wants higher fees to continue to allow Time Warner to carry such popular channels as Nickolodeon, Comedy Central, Spike TV, VH1, and MTV; Time Warner won't agree, it says because of the bad economy. Here's more from NPR. Here's a link to Viacom's statement on the subject. I could not find a statement on the matter on Time Warner's website. As of midnight, January 1, subscribers may lose access to these networks. Happy New Year.

December 31, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

The Link Between Dan Rather's Lawsuit and George Bush's Legacy

The Observer covers former CBS anchor Dan Rather's lawsuit against that network here. The article suggests that the suit "will cast a further shadow over the Bush legacy" as it explores Mr. Rather's allegations that the network attempted to bury stories in response to political pressure.

December 31, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Iraqi Journalist's Trial Postponed; Appellate Court Will Decide Charges

Muntadhar al-Zeidi's trial has been postponed, as authorities try to figure out what charges he should face. The journalist, who is now famous for having thrown his shoes at President Bush, who ducked, was reported likely to face charges of insulting a foreign head of state. An appellate court will now issue a ruling on the matter. In addition, it's now unclear that Mr. al-Zeidi was beaten while in custody, as indicated earlier. It's possible that the injuries he has suffered were inflicted while he was being apprehended. Read more here in an AP report.

December 30, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Radio Host Says BBC Offers Cheat Sheets To Celebrity Mastermind Participants

The BBC may be facing another controversy after radio host Victoria Derbyshire said she was told she could have a "crib sheet" (or cheat sheet) if she thought she needed one while competing on the celebrity version of the popular show "Mastermind." Ms. Derbyshire told producers she was anxious about knowing enough about her chosen subject, Thomas Hardy's novels, and was told she could have such a sheet. A BBC spokesperson, however, responded that "Celebrity Mastermind does not provide contestants with 'crib sheets' and all contestants work hard in the run-up to the recording ... If a contestant is struggling to find adequate information production can point them towards these in order to prevent them from using unsuitable material." Ms. Derbyshire eventually did not participate on the program. Celebrity participants, like regular participants, are supposed to have knowledge about their chosen subjects, but we assume the public would not want to see a favorite celebrity look ignorant on camera. Read more in a Guardian article here. Here's another article on the subject from the Daily Mail.

December 30, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Holocaust Non-Memoir

Berkley Publishing is cancelling the publication of Angel at the Fence, a Holocaust memoir, which its author has admitted is fabricated. Herman Rosenblat, who is a concentration camp survivor, said he made up the story that forms the basis of the book some years ago. Apparently it got away from him. The story was so touching that it moved many and got Mr. Rosenblat a great deal of publicity, including appearances on Oprah, but it also raised doubts, and the doubts were what eventually caused factchecking, and ultimately cancellation of the book's publication. Harris Solomon is producing a movie based on the book; the movie will go ahead, but will be labeled fiction. Read more here in a New York Times article and here in a story.

December 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Oops, We Did It Again

Courtesy of the Guardian, here's a roundup of British media bloopers.

December 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Teenager Asks Daily Mail For Apology Over Story Regarding Rhys Jones' Killer

Eighteen-year-old Kelly Marshall is asking the Daily Star for an apology for statements it made about her and certain statements it attributed to her concerning the man convicted of killing eleven-year-old Rhys Jones. Young Rhys was shot in a Liverpool parking lot more than a year ago. Sean Mercer was convicted in a highly publicized trial and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Ms. Marshall says she did not refer to Mr. Mercer as a "hero" and that he is not her boyfriend. The paper has not yet responded. Read more here in a Guardian story.

December 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Rules Fox Has Rights To "Watchmen"

The longstanding suit over rights to "Watchmen" seems to have been resolved, at least temporarily, in favor of Fox. Judge Gary Feess issued a preliminary ruling finding that Fox does have "copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the 'Watchmen' motion picture." In order to keep to its proposed schedule to release the film in March, Warner Brothers would need to settle with Fox quickly, or file an appeal.

December 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (2)

Gilmore Girls Lawsuit

The Hollywood Reporter reports that "Gilmore Girls" producer Gavin Polone is suing both Warner Brothers and its network, and the CW for fraud. Mr. Polone claims that the studio failed to pay him substantial amounts of money he was due under a 2000 agreement.

December 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Warner Brothers Sues CBS Over Two and a Half Men

Warner Brothers TV is suing CBS over "Two and a Half Men," alleging that the network hasn't paid WB additional fees it agreed to for the latest two seasons of the hit comedy, to cover WB's losses in producing the series. Read more in this Hollywood Reporter story. [Also at].

December 24, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

SAG Board Calls Off January 2 Strike Vote

The SAG strike vote is off temporarily, because of increasing opposition. Instead, the leadership is meeting to consider its next move. The studios are pressing their suggestion that SAG members reconsider AMPTP's last offer. A strike is still a possibility; ballots could go out in mid-January.

December 24, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (3)

Yahoo Decides To Limit Retention of Personally Identifiable Search Data

A New York Times editorial applauds Yahoo's decision to destroy personally identifiable search data after ninety days, concluding, "Internet users should be able to control how much of their personal data companies keep. Yahoo’s announcement is a welcome step in the direction of giving consumers more of that control."

December 24, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (2)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lillo Brancato Acquitted of Murder, Convicted of Attempted Burglary

Actor Lillo Brancato, Jr. was acquitted of both murder and weapons charges, but convicted of attempted burglary yesterday. Mr. Brancato appeared on the Sopranos some years ago. He was accused of murder in the death of off-duty police officer Daniel Enchautegui. Another man, Steven Armento, was convicted in that murder earlier this year. He received a sentence of life in prison. Read more here in a New York Times article.

December 23, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Illinois Court Rules That Plaintiff Must Disclose Name When Suing Newspaper For Defamation

An Illinois trial court has ruled that a defamation plaintiff may not sue anonymously unless he shows "good cause" to do so, as provided for under the statute. The plaintiff had alleged that the newspaper had defamed him by alleging that he failed to pay his taxes and contributed to the bankruptcy of a company.

The court finds that the alleged defamatory statement do not rise to the level of “exceptional”, involving a highly personal nature such as abortion, adoption, sexual orientation, or religion. Additionally, nothing has been presented to the court showing that disclosure of the Plaintiff's identify poses real danger or potential physical harm. If Plaintiff's allegations prove true, the greatest weigh of his damages for harm to reputation by Defendant's publishing have already accrued. The future risk that Plaintiff may suffer some harm to reputation or personal embarrassment is not enough to outweigh the public's interest in open judicial proceedings.
The case is Doe v. Chicago Sun-Times, 36 Med.L.Rptr. 2620 (2008).

December 23, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Strictly Come Hat in Hand

News of the World has apologized to Nicole Cutler, a dancer on the popular British show Strictly Come Dancing (which inspired Dancing With the Stars), for alleging that she said nasty things about the show's hosts. The apology appeared in print and online after Ms. Cutler complained to the Press Complaints Commission.

December 23, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (3)

Say What? reports that Tom Cruise's publicity folks tried to get some good reviews for Mr. Cruise's latest film Valkyrie by offering a private screening to employees at the radio station K-Earth 101 if they'd only say "nice things" about the flick.

December 23, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 22, 2008

"We're Sorry....So Sorry...."

Today, the New York Times apologized for printing what it thought was an email from the Mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoë, critizing Caroline Kennedy for seeking Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be vacant Senate seat. As it turns out. Mr. Delanoë sent no such email. Said the Times, "This letter was a fake. It should not have been published. Doing so violated both our standards and our procedures in publishing signed letters from our readers. We have already expressed our regrets to Mr. Delanoë's office and we are now doing the same to you, our readers." Read the fake missive, and the apology, here.

December 22, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Digital Transition Looms

The New York Times' Eric Taub discusses what's gone right--and wrong--with the transition to digital television. Says Mr. Taub, most commentators think the transition has gone mostly wrong. Some consumers still don't quite understand that the transition is coming soon, and that when the fateful day is here, their faithful rabbit-eared tv, that has worked for decades, won't work any longer. Some consumers are angry that the coupons they sent for to purchase converter boxes expired before converter boxes were available for purchase and they aren't allowed to get more coupons. (Whose idea was that?) The educational campaign hasn't gone well. Read more here.

December 22, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (2)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Robert Gibbs, Front and Center

In today's New York Times, Mark Leibovich discusses what kind of relationship President Obama might have with the press. The key, he says, is Mr. Obama's newly named spokesperson Robert Gibbs.

December 21, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Warner Tells YouTube To Take Down Video Clips

Negotiations between YouTube and Warner Music over royalties have broken down, and consequently Warner has told YouTube to take down all clips by Warner Music artists, reports Reuters. Read more here.

December 21, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)