Monday, April 2, 2012

No Anti-SLAPP Shield for CNN in News Captioning Lawsuit

Seal of the en:United States District Court fo...Seal of the en:United States District Court for the Northern District of California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)A United States District Court for the Northern District of California judge last week denied a motion by CNN to strike a complaint against it by the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness ("GLAD"), ruling the cable news network's reliance on California's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute [Cal. Civ. Proc. Code sec. 425.16] was improper.

In her 19-page decision in Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness et al. v. Cable News Network, Inc. (Case No. 3:11-cv-03458], U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler rejected CNN's attempted anti-SLAPP defense. The statute affords a party the right to strike a complaint against it based on "an act in furtherance of [the party's] right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue."

GLAD sued CNN on behalf of 100,000 deaf or hearing-impaired Californians for failing to provide captioning for online video content. Like CNN, no other major news network captions online videos.

The defendant argued its choice not to caption online videos constituted editorial discretion protected by the First Amendment and the anti-SLAPP legislation. Judge Beeler, however, said the plaintiff's action was grounded in discrimination and not based on CNN's protected speech or petition activity.

Tip of the hat to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Website (www.rcfp.org) for its coverage of the case.

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