KTVU, NTSB Apologize For Korean Airline Name Snafu

KTVU San Francisco has apologized publicly for misidentifying the pilots in the Asiana Airlines crash using racially offensive names  (including Sum Ting Wong and Wi Tu Lo) and the National Transportation and Safety Board has also apologized for erroneously confirming those names to the station.

The video went viral Friday after KTVU's noon news reported the names and aired a graphic of them. It did not say where the names had come from.

KTVU had said that NTSB had confirmed the names (which the agency conceded), but the station was taking full responsibility for airing them.

"We made several mistakes when we received this information. First, we never read the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out," the station said on its Web site . "Then, during our phone call to the NTSB where the person confirmed the spellings of the names, we never asked that person to give us their position within the agency.

"We heard this person verify the information without questioning who they were and then rushed the names on our noon newscast."

The person at NTSB turned out to be a summer intern--NTSB does not confirm names.

"The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6,:" NTSB said on its Web site.

"In response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.

"The NTSB does not release or confirm the names of crewmembers or people involved in transportation accidents to the media. We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today's incident."

NTSB said it would take steps to make sure such a "serious error" was not repeated.

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.