CDA Applies To News Anchors Too

The US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi recently handed some bad news to a former news anchor who sued her former station for a host of claims, including defamation and infliction of emotional distress. While still employed at station WLOX, the anchor, Toni Miles, was arrested during a drug raid at a house she was visiting. Given that the arrest happened on October 24, 2008 and Miles’ contract expired on October 31, 2008, the station did not renew her agreement, and told her not to return to work. Ms. Miles filed suit. Her defamation claim was based on the fact that the station ran a story about the arrest and allowed “unfiltered online comments” containing false information to appear on its Web site. Apparently, Ms. Miles was not familiar with the Communications Decency Act. That federal law states very clearly that a Web host (in this case the TV station) is not considered the publisher of content supplied by third parties. The situation she described in her lawsuit is exactly what the CDA protects. This was a pretty easy call for the court. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Ms. Miles apparently landed on her feet. She’s the morning anchor at Channel 10 in Corpus Christi.