On Wednesday evening we gathered in the Law Building to get the run-down on how NOT to get sued when broadcasting (pictured below, our broadcasters doing some serious thinking). This is the de-brief from our legal training!
Here are the essential points that will help you avoid saying defamatory things!
- When you're talking on-air, think: WHO are you identifying, whether directly or implicitly? WHAT imputations can be drawn from what you say? (your intended and even unintended meaning).
- Do these imputations?
- subject a person to ridicule
- cause people to shun or avoid the person
- harm their professional reputation/cause them to lose business, etc
- do damage to the person's reputation in the wider community
If the answer to one of these questions is yes, you may have defamed someone. (This is bad).What to do if you fulfill these conditions and are in fact defaming someone: Once you sense something defamatory has been said, put on a song so that the matter does not have a chance to escalate. RETRACT the comment as soon as possible (like right after the song ends). CONTACT your executive, preferably our President, Annie on firstname.lastname@example.org
Key things to keep in mind about liability:
- You (and the station) are liable for defamatory remarks made by any guests you have on your show
- As a general rule, you cannot defame a corporation, nor can you defame a deceased person. However, you can defame the estate of the deceased and the estate may take action against you.
At the end of the day, use common sense - how would you feel if something was said about you? We hope that for those who attended they found the session very informative! We would like to thank Annamarie for providing us with lots of interesting info and examples, and taking our many questions. SURG will continue to provide you with information sessions on all aspects of the radio industry, get along to one if you can!