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Station Break

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Ansin says he'll sue

WHDH-TV Boston owner Ed Ansin said last week that he plans to sue the representative of departed anchor Kim Carrigan and the newspaper that published her manager Alfred Geller's remarks, charging defamation. The Sunbeam Television chairman objects to a column by Boston Herald
columnist Margery Eagan, which suggested—largely through the words of others, attributed and unattributed—that Ansin is in need of psychological help.

Eagan's column portrays Ansin as the model of a cutthroat boss described in a book about workplace issues. Eagan quoted unnamed employees as well as Geller, who called Ansin immoral and demented.

Given Eagan's status as a writer of opinion and Ansin's as a public figure, Ansin conceded that "libel suits are not easy for plaintiffs. But this was a reckless disregard for truth. I feel compelled to seek redress for the damage to my reputation."

Herald Editor Andrew Costello said the paper had reviewed Ansin's charges and Eagan's column and "believes there are no grounds for legal action." Nor has the paper retracted or apologized for the column. Geller, too, said he was not worried: "A man who runs a media operation is trying to squelch all criticism."

Ansin was in Boston last week to receive an honorary degree from Emerson College, but he also spent time talking with media and the station's staff about station plans. In an eventful few weeks, the station has dropped Carrigan—which reportedly has not helped morale—as well as popular access shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and opted out of Nielsen's people meters.

Restraining order

Miami's WPLG(TV) agreed last week to a court order to keep reporter Jilda Unruh away from a prominent Miami lobbyist she had tried to interview in his hospital room. Lobbyist Eric Sisser said Unruh surprised him in his room and caused his blood pressure to rise, requiring treatment to bring it back down. He told local media he thought Unruh was a nurse. Unruh wanted to question Sisser about his role in some contracts involving the Dade County school system, the station said.

News Director Bill Pohovey, to whom Unruh referred calls, said the reporter did not surprise Sisser but was invited into his room. She had no camera or recording device, he said. When she asked a tough question, Pohovey said, Sisser used profanity as he asked her to leave. Pohovey noted that Sisser left the hospital the next day.

Missing anchor declared dead

KIMT(TV) Mason City, Iowa, anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit, missing for six years, was declared legally dead last week. Attorney Robert Swanson, Huisentruit's court-appointed guardian, said he sought the declaration at the request of Huisentruit's family. Numerous leads and theories over years of investigation by police in several states have not led to any resolution of the case.

Swanson said that, although the family had not lost all hope that she might someday reappear, Huisentruit's mother, two sisters and a cousin pursued last week's court action in order to proceed with probating Huisentruit's estate, closing out some personal affairs and settling life-insurance policies. My duties are over with," Swanson said. "But this doesn't end the police investigation."

Mast meeting

An advisory committee of the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal-OSHA) will meet next month to address issues of ENG-van safety—a result of the mast/power-line accident that cost KABC-TV Los Angeles reporter Adrienne Alpert much of her left arm, parts of her other hand, and a foot.

Local unions, including the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, the National Alliance of Broadcast Employees & Technicians, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have been pushing the new safety standards. Cal-OSHA will consider proposals dealing with ENG crew sizes, training and equipment that might detect hazards during mast use.

UN-appealing

San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown told KRON-TV reporter Vic Lee that Lee's report exposing the city's United Nations Plaza as an open-air crack den would be shown to the city's department heads. Brown called the situation "revolting. Obviously, it's not what I want for the city."

All news is local. Contact Dan Trigoboff at 301-260-0923, e-mail
dtrig@erols.com
, or fax 413-254-4113

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