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Media groups back Nike

Several networks, TV-station groups and media-advocacy organizations have
filed to support an appeal by shoe manufacturer Nike Inc., challenging a California
Supreme Court decision that they believe creates a "commercial-speech dragnet" with
"staggering" restrictions.

If the decision is not reversed, the amici curiae brief contended, business
representatives will be barred from speaking to the press about "issues ranging
from race discrimination to environmental sustainability to product health and
safety" and others.

But the shoe company's opponents disputed the constitutional implications of
the case.

"This case is far more about `truth in advertising' than it is about 'freedom
of speech.' There is no constitutional right to dupe consumers; this has been
the law for decades," said co-lead plaintiff's attorney Patrick Coughlin, a
partner at Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, when Nike announced its

Broadcast and cable interests joining the brief are networks and/or station
owners ABC, NBC, CBS, Cable News Network, Fox, Belo Corp., The New York Times, The Washington
, Tribune Co. Inc., Hearst Corp., The McClatchy Co. and Bloomberg L.P.

Also listed are advocacy organizations like the National Association of
Broadcasters, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Radio-Television
News Directors' Association. Reed Elsevier Inc., parent company of Broadcasting
& Cable
, is also a party to the brief.

The 4-3 California decision revived a lawsuit against Nike from San Francisco
resident Mark Kasky, who asserted that Nike made deceptive statements regarding
wages and working conditions in overseas operations.

Nike contended that its statements concerning labor practices are part of a
public-issues debate and deserve the full protection of the First Amendment, not
the lesser protection accorded commercial speech.