Open Mike11/18/2001 07:00:00 PM Eastern
Editor: On Nov. 5, BROADCASTING & CABLE ran an article titled "Band of colluding broadcasters?" After this sinister heading, the first three paragraphs of the article described a Department of Justice finding five years ago that three Corpus Christi television stations had violated the antitrust laws by jointly withholding retransmission consent to the local cable system, then owned by TCI. Only then did the article turn to the subject at hand, namely that a few broadcasters had met to discuss "the future of the [broadcast] business." The combination of the headline and the first third of the article's focus on Corpus Christi antitrust violations left the clear (but entirely wrong) impression that those involved either were engaged in unlawful activity or were contemplating it. Yet the article was completely devoid of any information to suggest that this was the case.
As a participant in the discussion, I know in fact that no wrongdoing was committed or discussed. If the discussion was worth reporting at all, the article should have avoided any innuendo of impropriety. As it was published, the article was misleading and harmful.
—Alan W. Frank, president, Post-Newsweek Stations Inc.