Kerry Asked Feds To Insure Turner Payments

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It looks as though it may be a moot point now, but Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts sent a letter to both the Federal Trade Commission and the FCC asking them to explore ways the federal government could pressure Turner to compensate first responders in Boston.

Those emergency workers had wound up first responding to lightboard promotions for a Cartoon Network show that were mistaken for possible bombs given the post-9/11 concern over unidentified objects in high-traffic areas. Streets and even a section of the Charles River were closed down and traffic snarled for much of the day Wednesday as teams of responders in protective gear disarmed the Finger-flicking animated characters.

Moot point because Turner, at least according to the Boston mayor, has agreed to compensate the city for its trouble, though the details and payment figure--possible seven figures--had yet to be worked out.

Both will almost certainly respond, but it is unclear what "potential federal remedies" either could have come up with to force Turner to take the action it has volunteered to take.

A Kerry  spokesman said they were pleased Turner had volunteered to pay.

Following is the text of the letter:

Chairman Kevin J. Martin
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20580

Dear Chairman Martin and Chairwoman Majoras,

As you are aware, yesterday, January 31st, 2006, two men were arrested for placing what appeared to be an IED (improvised explosive device) in more than two dozen highly trafficked spots, rousing fears of terrorism and ultimately shutting down many parts of Boston.  The two men were charged with placing 38 blinking electronic circuit boards as part of a marketing campaign for Turner Broadcasting’s Cartoon Network TV show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force. 

After the discovery and initial detonation of the first suspicious device, the city of Boston temporarily closed multiple bridges, subway stations, an interstate highway and the Charles River causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency relief and huge delays across the city.  Bomb squads, extra police officers, the Homeland Security Department and even the FBI were deployed to respond to the situation.

Turner Broadcasting issued an apology, and it is my understanding that the company is engaged in discussions with the City of Boston and other communities in the Commonwealth to seek an agreeable resolution to reimburse associated costs.  Nevertheless, I believe that considering the current condition of our post 9/11 world, this marketing campaign was ill-advised and imprudent.  Taking into account the anxiety, fear and lengthy delays caused to Boston residents, as well as the vast amount of resources needed to handle these suspicious devices, I ask the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to explore potential federal remedies to ensure the city is reimbursed.  The City of Boston should be compensated for all damages incurred connected to this incident, since I do not believe Massachusetts taxpayers should have to foot the bill for the emergency response to this hoax.  I look forward to your response.