HBO, the cable television network, was found not guilty of libeling a British sporting goods company, Reuters reported.
As iMediaEthics previously reported, HBO was on trial this past month over a 2008 “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” report “Children of Industry,” which claimed the sporting goods company Mitre used child labor in India.
“We are delighted with the jury’s decision,” HBO told iMediaEthics, adding that “this case was without merit.”
The full HBO statement sent to iMediaEthics is below:
“We are delighted with the jury’s decision, which confirms what we have said since the beginning of this legal proceeding in the fall of 2008: this case was without merit and the Real Sports reporting was unimpeachable. We couldn’t be prouder of the Real Sports franchise and the award-winning work done over the past 20 years.
“We are grateful to the jury for their careful consideration of the evidence.”
A Mitre spokesperson told iMediaEthics by e-mail:
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“We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict. But, we are pleased we were able to tell our side of the story to the general public. For us, this case has not been about winning or losing, it has always been about setting the record straight even if we were unable to overcome the high burden of proof under U.S. law.
“As the trial documented, our long record of working to eliminate child labor was strongly endorsed.
“We are longstanding supporters of, and work closely with organizations such as the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) and the Sports Goods Foundation of India (SGFI). Collectively, we are committed to ensuring that factories and homes comply with labor standards and that, if cases of child labor are found, we work together to lift those children out of work and into school.”
Mitre sought “tens of millions of dollars” in the lawsuit.
During the trial, Mitre showed “sworn depositions from three of the children [shown in the report] to bolster its contention that children were induced to pretend on camera that they were underage workers,” Reuters reported. In response, HBO claimed that the children “lived in a ‘climate of fear,’ and were coerced into signing false affidavits.”
UPDATED 5/8/2015 7:21 PM EST Added response from Mitre