Challenge to CNN’s Decision Not to Caption Video Is Not SLAPP

Apr 11, 12

Cable News Network Inc.’s decision to refrain from captioning videos on its website was not an act in furtherance of its protected free speech rights, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled March 23, denying CNN’s motion to dismiss an accessibility lawsuit under California’s anti-SLAPP statute (Greater LA Agency on Deafness v. CNN Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 11-3458, 3/23/12).

Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler rejected CNN’s proposed application of the anti-SLAPP statute, Cal. Civ. Proc. Code ยง425.16(b)(1). CNN’s decision not to caption the videos had no direct link to its exercise of its First Amendment rights: at that point in the process, the newsgathering and reporting had already occurred, and the plaintiffs merely wanted to access the content, the court said.

The case is more akin to Doe v. Gangland Productions Inc., 802 F.Supp.2d 1116 (C.D. Cal. 2011), than to CNN-cited cases against media organizations that dealt directly with their newsgathering and reporting, the court concluded. The Gangland court held that the anti-SLAPP statute did not apply to a scenario involving a television producer that promised a gang member that it would conceal his identity but nonetheless broadcast his face and nickname.

Like Gangland, the issue here–captioning–is not part of the underlying protected speech, the court said.

Read the full article from Bloomberg BNA here:

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