After a month-long trial, it took a jury less than six hours to decide that Home Box Office did not defame Indian soccer ball manufacturer Mitre Sports International in a 2008 report that the company had regularly used child labor.
The report — "Children of Industry" — appeared on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel in 2008. The 22-minute report, which aired on the network about 100 times since 2008, showed children stitching soccer balls for five cents per hour or nothing at all, sometimes to repay loans given to their parents to the company, according to the original complaint. Mitre Sports, which says it is an international advocate against child labor, had claimed that it did not make soccer balls in the two locations in India the HBO report reports claimed — Jalandhar and Meerut — and that the report hurt its standing in the community. The company also claimed that although HBO said it had found at least 10 companies that had used child labor to stitch soccer balls, only Mitre was identified by name.
Mitre sued HBO in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in October 2008.