Station Break

Sending it back

The one-time owner of an Oklahoma City TV station will likely appeal a $700,000 defamation award to the owner of a restaurant that went out of business following an unfavorable news report.

Robert Tayar, who owned Molly Murphy's restaurant, blamed the business's failure on a KFOR-TV report in which he tried to throw out reporter Anthony Foster and cameraman Brad Riggens as they tried to confront him about problems alleged by viewers regarding the restaurant's coupons. Tayar, who was arrested—on tape—and fined over the incident, sued station owner Palmer Communications. The station has since been purchased by The New York Times Co., but insurers continue to contest the lawsuit for its potential value as a precedent.

Attorney Robert D. Nelon, representing Palmer's insurer, said the station had initially won on summary judgment, but the case was reinstated on appeal so that a jury could determine whether the station's journalistic approach—including the alleged "ambush" and use of expressions like "double-coupon double-cross" and "waitress turned the tables"—violated professional standards. The jury sided with Tayar to the tune of $700,000.

Nelon expects Palmer to appeal. Media defendants tend to do better on issues of law than of fact, in which standards of the law can get lost in the jury's sympathy for a plaintiff.

Tayar's attorney Keith Ward agrees, sort of: "The media fears nothing but juries."

Lottery loser

Charlotte, N.C., presents such a big market for South Carolina's new lottery, one local pundit suggested its slogan should be "Welcome, North Carolina gambling addicts!"

But North Carolina broadcasters are prohibited by FCC regulations from sharing in the wealth of their southern neighbor's six-figure ad campaign. Queried in recent weeks by its members, the North Carolina Broadcasters Association has informed them that regulations forbid any station licensed in a state that does not conduct its own lottery from carrying advertising from another state's lottery. Local cable advertising is not affected.

Attempts to implement a lottery in North Carolina for funding education have been mired in politics despite some powerful backing.

Pet food

A months-long investigation by WPIX(TV) New York investigative reporter Polly Kreisman and the Humane Society discovered a farm in an outlying area of New York that appeared to be raising dogs to be sold for food and found canine meat in a stew served at a Korean restaurant in Queens. In Korea, dogs are considered a delicacy.

Dozens of stories criticizing Kreisman and her series "When Man Bites Dog" have appeared in Korean-language newspapers in New York and reportedly on Korean TV.

Local Korean community groups have written the Tribune-owned station to complain that the series misrepresents the Korean community. The station has defended the story factually and asserts that it is not intended to, and does not, address the entire Korean-American community.

The station has said the story may prompt legislation outlawing dog meat in New York State.

News director sentenced

Former WCSC-TV Charleston, S.C., News Director Donald Feldman has been sentenced to three years in prison and three on probation and ordered to pay restitution for the more than $2 million he is believed to have embezzled from the station.

Feldman pleaded guilty earlier to the theft this year following a federal investigation.

The investigation focused on money laundering and tax offenses and concluded that Feldman had submitted false invoices and used the money for his own and friends' travel and recreation.

According to local reports, Feldman expressed remorse at his sentencing and admitted to betraying his friends and stockholders of station parent Jefferson Pilot.