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Lawsuits

Former Employee Suing Scripps for Putting Hidden Camera in Men’s Bathroom

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Brad Brown, a former promotions producer at Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS, is suing the station’s parent company for keeping a hidden camera in the men’s bathroom over the summer.

Cleveland.com reports that Brown filed the lawsuit against E.W. Scripps Co. Inc., and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees.

The lawsuit blames Berry Pinney, then the station’s director of engineering and operations, for placing the hidden cameras in the men’s bathroom. According to the suit, Pinney told an employee to place a camera in a non-functioning sprinkler in the ceiling of the first-floor men’s room with the goal of catching a vandal. The suit claims that on July 13, an employee noticed video images from the men’s restroom on a security-desk monitor. Once employees learned of the camera, the recordings were promptly deleted, the suit claims.

“They spied on their own employees while we were using the toilet,” Brown said in a statement. “It is hard to imagine anything more outrageous.”

Brown has since left WEWS and now works at Tribune owned FOX affiliate WJW.

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Streaming TV Site Wins One in FOX Lawsuit

homepageMMSV5As our sister site TVNewser reported, a judge has given a partial victory to TV archiving and streaming site TVEyes.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled the site’s keyword search function falls under fair use doctrine after FOX sued the site last year.

A Fox News spokesperson says the network will fight on: “The Court expressly said that it required more information to decide whether TVEyes’ other features — including allowing video clips to be archived, downloaded, emailed, and shared via social media — were fair use.”

The Court has called for another hearing on that part of the case on October 3. Mediabistro sites TVNewser and TVSpy use TVEyes extensively.

Federal Court Rejects Aereo’s Plea to Operate as Cable System

aereoA federal court has rejected Aereo’s appeal to continue operating as a cable company, The Washington Post reports:

If the shuttered streaming video company wants to keep fighting for its survival, procedural reasons require that it do so at the district court level, officials said in a document filed Thursday.

The decision is a win for broadcasters, who had sought a ban on Aereo from the beginning. Initially, the district court decided against an injunction. But a ruling from the Supreme Court earlier this summer reversed that decision. Now the appellate court, following procedure, has also followed suit. Aereo declined to comment; a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

How significant is this move? Seeing as Aereo had already voluntarily shut its doors after the Supreme Court verdict, a preliminary injunction doesn’t mean much for the company operationally. But the Second Circuit is effectively telling Aereo that if it wants to argue that it’s a cable company only for the purposes of copyright law — and therefore qualified to pay lower royalties — it’s currently making the argument to the wrong people.

McDonald’s Mom Who Left Child in Park Has Personal Info Leaked by WJBF

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According to a post on The Root, Debra Harrell, the South Carolina woman who was arrested after she left her daughter unattended at a park, has had her interrogation video and personal information posted by Augusta, Georgia ABC affiliate WJBF.

The station reportedly posted an unedited video of a police interview with Harrell, in which her personal information was revealed, including her address, phone number, and Social Security number:

The original posting of the video was an unedited version that included Harrell’s personal information, Jezebel reports. The video has since been redacted, but Harrell’s information was public for at least an hour.

Harrell’s attorney tells iMediaEthics they intend to sue the station: Read more

Woman Sues KHOU After Report Claims She Locked Her Kids in Hot Car

khou kids car reportA Texas mother is suing Houston CBS affiliate KHOU after a report that falsely accused her of leaving her children in a hot car while she went to get a hair cut, the Houston Chronicle reports.

KHOU reported on the incident July 15 based on a witness who said shoppers “took matters into their own hands,” smashing the car window with a hammer while their mother, Araceli Cisneros, was inside the mall. In reality, Cisneros had actually accidentally locked the children — and her car keys — in the car, and had asked for help in smashing the windows to get them.

After the story went viral, Cisneros filed a suit claiming more than $200,000 in damages, the Chronicle reports:

The suit says KHOU and reporter Rucks Russell published the story with a “reckless disregard for its truth or falsity” and without doing the “most basic fact checking.” According to the suit, nationally syndicated TV personality Nancy Grace even picked it up, calling Cisneros an unfit mother. Read more

Former Macon Anchor Files Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Georgia National Guard

wmaz whistleblowerA former news news anchor for Macon CBS station WMAZ claims she was fired from her job with the Georgia National Guard after raising questions about ethics, according to a lawsuit filed July 24th. Mary Therese Grabowski, who was a WMAZ anchor for eight years, says within months of joining the Georgia Guard as a civilian public affairs officer, she began raising questions about improper and potentially unethical decisions made by Adjutant General Jim Butterworth:

“…questions like why Butterworth used Guard resources to organize a fundraiser for a private medical center.

Grabowski also claims she also questioned why Butterworth was attending an air show in Paris at a time when military furloughs and cuts were expected. She says she was told Butterworth would be a guest of the governor’s office, but later discovered he had stayed days after the governor left Paris.

Additionally, Grabowski claims she was asked by Butterworth’s wife to promote an event for country music singer Kaley Caperton, a personal friend of the Butterworths.”

Watch WMAZ’s report after the jump. Read more

Attorney Wants $5 Million from WAVY in Defamation Case

wavy logoThe Virginian-Pilot reports a local attorney is suing WAVY for $5 million.

The attorney, Sterling Weaver, is representing himself in the defamation case against the Portsmouth, VA, NBC affiliate. Weaver claims the station “maligned him” while reporting about his arrest on an assault charge.

In a Feb. 6 newscast, WAVY reported that Weaver had been indicted on felony assault and misdemeanor sexual battery charges for an alleged incident involving a female deputy in a Portsmouth courtroom.

The deputy accused Weaver of inappropriately touching her.

During that report, WAVY also said it “did some digging into Weaver’s past” and discovered that he had been convicted of assault and sentenced to 30 days in jail for grabbing a prosecutor by the throat in 2006, according to the lawsuit.

The station, however, failed to report that Weaver appealed that case to a Circuit Court judge who dismissed it after Weaver remained on good behavior for a year, the suit says. He did not serve jail time in that case. Read more

Sinclair Reportedly Clears Last Hurdle Before Closing Deal for Allbritton

sinclair_304The Wall Street Journal reports Sinclair Broadcast Group is moving closer to sealing its deal for Allbritton Communications by settling a lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.

The DOJ thought Sinclair’s purchase of ABC affiliate WHTM in a market where it already owns CBS affiliate WHP and CW affiliate WLYH would affect the cost of advertising in the market.

Last month Sinclair agreed to sell the station to Media General when the Allbritton deal is finalized.

“The rivalry between the stations has helped to constrain advertising rates, and without the divestiture, advertisers on stations in this area would likely have paid higher prices,” said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

The settlement comes less than two weeks before a one-year clock will run out for Sinclair to get regulatory approval for its Allbritton deal. If approval isn’t reached in time, Sinclair has said the deal may not close.

The settlement will “pave the way in fact for a DOJ approval,” wrote Evercore analyst Doug Arthur. “Next stop: the FCC,” referring to the Federal Communications Commission. Read more

Aereo CEO: ‘We Have Decided to Pause Our Operations Temporarily’

aereoIn a letter to subscribers sent Saturday, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said the streaming TV service is taking a “pause” as they “consult with the court and map out our next steps” in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court loss:

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision in favor of Aereo, dealing a massive setback to consumers.

As a result of that decision, our case has been returned to the lower Court. We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps. You will be able to access your cloud-based antenna and DVR only until 11:30 a.m. ET today.

All of our users will be refunded their last paid month. If you have questions about your account, please email support@aereo.com or tweet us @AereoSupport.

Read the full letter after the jump. Read more

Supreme Court Sides With Broadcasters in Aereo Case

aereoThe Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the broadcasters in ABC vs. Aereo. In the 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice Breyer, the High Court “goes out out of its way to make clear that its ruling does not endanger other technologies,” according to SCOTUSBlog.

The decision is the end of a long road for the lawsuit, which began when Aereo launched in 2012. Acting on behalf of the local stations in New York City, Aereo’s first market, broadcasters filed the initial suit less than two weeks after the streaming television service was announced. Four months later, a federal judge ruled in Aereo’s favor. In early 2013, a federal appeals court upheld the lower court’s ruling. In October 2013, the broadcasters petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The High Court heard oral arguments in the case in April. At the time, justices seemed conflicted over the broader implications the ruling could have over the cloud computing industry. During the arguments, the Supreme Court heard from both sides as well as the Deputy Solicitor General, who argued against Aereo on behalf of the government.

As for what’s next for Aereo: both Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia and investor Barry Diller have said that the streaming service would be shut down in the event of a Supreme Court loss. “The mission of this company was to try to create an open platform, to try to wedge the system open a little bit. And if we don’t succeed in that, despite our best efforts and good law on our side and merits of our case, it would be a tragedy, but it is what it is,” Kanojia told Bloomberg TV in April.

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