Citation: New World Communications of Tampa, Inc., d/b/a WTVT-TV v. Jane Akre February 14, 2003. Denied February 25, 2004. 866 So. 2d 1231 District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District.
Facts: In 1998, investigative reporting team, Jane Akre and her husband Steve Wilson, brought suit against their employer WVTV, a subsidiary of Fox TV, under violation of Florida’s whistle-blower statutes. They argued that the station had terminated their employment under grounds of retaliation because the team refused to suppress and distort the contents of a story regarding the controversial Bovine Growth Hormone in Florida’s cattle. Additional claims also brought forth included declaratory relief and breach of contract. After a four-week trial, a jury found against Wilson on all of his claims. Akre decided to drop allegations concerning declaratory relief and the court allowed for continuance based on her whistle-blower claims. The jury granted a monetary award of $425,000 in damages to Akre based on retaliation claims established by whistle-blower statute. In 2004, WTVT appealed the whistle-blower statute judgment. The final judgment was reversed after the 13th Florida Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Akre had failed to a make a claim under the whistle-blowers statute. The court stated that technically speaking, it is not against any rule, law, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.
Issues: Did Ms. Akre’s claims meet the whistle-blower statue? Was the “news distortion policy” adopted as rule by the FCC?
Rule of Law: The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a United States federal law that protects federal whistleblowers who work for the government and report agency misconduct. (www.wikipedia.org/whistleblower.com). The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act calls for whistleblowing in the context of publicly traded companies such as Fox News. Both the Whistleblower and the SOX act protect