Ethics Commission: Jackson Must Pay WLBT $170,000

(Image credit: Gray Television)

WLBT Jackson, Mississippi, said the city of Jackson will have to pay legal fees to parent Gray Television of more than $170,000.

That is after the Mississippi Ethics Commission, which enforces state ethics in government laws including access to public records, unanimously voted that the state had violated those laws by taking more than a year to respond to the NBC affiliate's record requests, which, by law, are supposed to be responded to within seven days.

The station said it is a record fine for that commission, which also told the city to produce the relevant records ASAP.

The station had sought records of the Jackson police department and, when they were not forthcoming, filed the ethics complaint in October 2019, it said.

"[T]he city and its elected officials and, therefore, its employees, have continued to ignore the law and persistently failed to meet legal obligations under the Public Records Act.

In addition to the money ($170,397.50 to be exact) and the documents, Jackson's mayor will have to report weekly on the status of the city's system for producing public records on request.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.