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stebbinsd

Local TV stations

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Would a national TV station that has local affiliates, like Fox, NBC, CBS, or ABC, be liable, via respondiate superior for the torts of its local affiliates?

What I mean is, if a news anchor who works for a local station commits a tort against an interviewee, I understand that the local affiliate station would be liable, but would the national station also be liable?

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stebbinsd said...

What I mean is, if a news anchor who works for a local station commits a tort against an interviewee, I understand that the local affiliate station would be liable, but would the national station also be liable?

Most local TV stations (the "affiliates") are independently owned stations, rather than network owned stations. They are not under the direct control of the network. Thus, in most cases, the network is not legally responsible for the acts of the affiliates or the affiliates' employees.

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stebbinsd said...

What if a local news interview is broadcast on the national network?

Would the national network THEN be vicariously liable for torts committed in the course and scope of that interview?

No. There are two basic circumstances that must exist for the respondeat superior liability here:

  • the person committing the tort must have been in the employ of the person against whom the liabiity is sought; and
  • the person must have been acting within the scope of his/her employment.
The idea here is that the employer bears responsibility because the employee is acting at his direction and for his benefit when the tort occurs, and thus it is fair to make the employer liable for that.

In the case of a reporter who is employed by a local TV station and who does an interview for that local TV station, it is the local TV station that employed him at the time of the interview, and it is the one that bears liability for any torts committed within the scope of employment. The fact that the national network then sees the interview later and decides to air it on its network newscast will not make the national network liable. The reason is that the reporter was not acting on behalf of the network when the interview occurred (i.e. was not employed by the network) and thus the network had no control over the reporter's actions.

Now, if the network (as they sometimes do) taps a local reporter or anchor to do an assignment for the network, then while doing that assignment the reporter/anchor is in the employ of the network and then the network, rather than the local TV station, would be likely liable for torts committed within the scope of employment on that assignment. In that case, the network controls and directs the reporter/anchor.

There is, of course, the issue of whether the tort committed was within the scope of employment. It's hard to imagine many torts occurring during an interview (other than defamation) that would occur within the scope of employment in an interview.

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I should add one other aspect to this. If the local TV station ran an interview in which the reporter made defamatory comments and then the national network picked it up, the network might be liable for defamation, but not because of vicarious liability. It instead may be directly liable because it broadcast the defamatory statement. Of course, if the plaintiff is a public figure, he or she will have the high hurdle of the standard set by the Supreme Court in NY Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964) in which the plaintiff must show that the statements were made with malice, i.e. with actual knowledge the statements made were false or with reckless disregard for whether the statements made were false.

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**** look at my second post. I CHANGED it to include general vicarious liability.

I realized that, to get respondeat superior, I would have to show an employment relationship. I get it.

But, vicarious liability can potentially happen whenever anyone is doing anything on behalf of another.

[This post has been edited to remove statements that violated the stated Community Guidelines. Please remember to keep conversations respectful and civil. Personal attacks will be deleted and repeated violations can lead to suspension from the boards. Thank you. -Moderator]

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No, vicarious liability cannot potentially happen whenever anyone is doing anything on behalf of another. There has to be a special relationship, such as parent and child, employer and employee or owner of vehicle and driver, for one party to be responsible for the torts of another.

Tax_Counsel gave a thorough answer, be respectful. I will disagree, however, on one point "Local talent" would most likely never be considered in the employ of the network. Networks have agreements in place with the local affiliates to provide content to the networks. The local affiliate is going to be responsible for assigning the work to its employees and contractors (anchors, reporter, camera crews, teamsters, caterers, etc.), managing it, paying the direct expenses of the assignment, etc. Most likely, there will be several layers of contracts, subcontracts and indemnification clauses between the on-air talent and the network.

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stebbinsd said...

**** look at my second post. I CHANGED it to include general vicarious liability.

No, nothing is wrong with my head, and my answer was correct. But I won't bother to explain why. I warned you before that if you continued throwing out insults just because you don't get answers you like that I'd stop responding to your posts. Judging from the above post, apparently you didn't get it. So, I've had it. I'll no longer respond to anything you post on these boards—I'll not waste time responding to someone who is not only ungrateful but insulting and disrespectful. Get your answers from somewhere else. I'm done.

[This post has been edited to remove statements that violated the stated Community Guidelines. - Moderator]

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stebbinsd said...

No, your answer was not correct.

Giving a correct answer

requires that you actually give an answer (no adjectives), and what you

gave me did not answer the question of general vicarious liability.

You don't get it, do you? I'm not wasting my time to provide information to someone who is continually insulting. So don't bother responding to this—you won't get any more from me.

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stebbinsd said...

Would a national TV station that has local affiliates, like Fox, NBC, CBS, or ABC, be liable, via respondiate superior for the torts of its local affiliates?

Generally not, but it wouldn't be out of the question given the right set of facts.

stebbinsd said...

What I mean is, if a news anchor who works for a local station commits a tort against an interviewee, I understand that the local affiliate station would be liable, but would the national station also be liable?

Depending on the particulars of the tort, even the local affiliate that employs the anchor might not be liable. It would take a particularly unique set of facts for the national network with which the local station is affiliated to have any liability.

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stebbinsd said...

What if a local news interview is broadcast on the national network?

Would the national network THEN be vicariously liable for torts committed in the course and scope of that interview?

Not based solely on that fact, no.

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stebbinsd said...

Can someone give an answer that is NOT on my blocked list?

****

This is a message board. You'll get a response when someone reads your post and decides to respond. You don't get to dictate who responds, and, rather obviously, we don't know who is on your "blocked list" (although it appears to be everyone other than "Tax_Counsel"). However, since you've now pushed "Tax_Counsel" over the edge, it seems likely that the answer to the question, henceforth, will be no.

[This post has been edited to remove statements that violated the stated Community Guidelines. Please remember to keep conversations respectful and civil. Personal attacks will be deleted and repeated violations can lead to suspension from the boards. -Moderator]

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