California bill would require fees for coverage p.23

By: M.L. Stein THE O.J. SIMPSON trial has drawn various reactions from Californians and people throughout the country, but in the state Legislature it evokes the smell of profit.
A majority in the California Assembly's Local Government Committee have approved a bill that would authorize cities and counties to require media organizations to pay for broadcasting "high profile" cases.
The measure by Rep. Paula Boland (R-Granada Hills, Los Angeles County) would authorize local governments to require media units to bid for the right to broadcast a major trial and let them charge for the privilege.
Boland noted that the Simpson case cost Los Angeles County over $2 million in the first 30 days of the trial. She told the committee: "We are trying to give L.A. County the option of charging the media to cover the news event. They [media] are not just making money, they are making good money."
Representatives of the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) and the American Civil Liberties Union testified in opposition to the bill, arguing that it's unconstitutional and improperly puts government in the position of being TV producers.
CNPA's Legislative Bulletin said: "Conspicuously absent from the hearing were representatives from the broadcast industry."
Recently, the presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court turned down a county request to force the media to pay for broadcasting the trial.
In their opposition to the move, the broadcasters pointed out that they are paying thousands of dollars to the county for space for their equipment in a parking lot across the street from the Criminal Courts Building, the scene of the trial, and for wiring inside the courtroom.
In another legislative battle, CNPA claimed credit for defeating the so-called "food libel bill" that would have allowed food producers and shippers to sue anyone who originates or publishes a statement that a food product is
CNPA lobbied hard against the bill, which was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee
Joining the publishers in opposing the measure were the Consumers Union, National Resource Defense Council, ACLU and others.
CNPA argued that the bill would have a substantial chilling effect on public debate about food safety issues and in reporting such matters. nE&P


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