Court TV to fight Allen’s appeal against coverage

The Courtroom Television Network goes into court today to defend its rights to carry Woody Allen’s much-publicized custody battle with Mia Farrow.

Court TV, armed with First Amendment expert Floyd Abrams, received permission from the New York Supreme Court to cover the trial seven weeks ago; however, Allen appealed the decision.

The Allen/Farrow case is scheduled to start Tuesday.

In its initial petition with the court, Abrams strongly argued that while the television cameras should be in the courtroom for the Allen/Farrow face-off, the network was committed to not airing any of the children’s testimony or the sexually explicit material that is expected to arise during the case.

“We’re reiterating our desire”to cover the trials, said Merrill Brown, senior VP of corporate and programming development.

But after reviewing the court documents, Court TV programmers have decided to forgo live coverage of the hearing and will use only taped pieces.

In a memo to staffers, network head Steve Brill said that even though the coverage is likely to only include lawyers arguing, it “seems likely to be filled with argument and rhetoric about exactly the matters we have pledged not to televise.” Brill continued, “This seems in large part to be because the parents have chosen to use their children as weapons.”

Under the current setup, Court TV would serve as the pool camera for any news outlet wishing footage of the case. While Court will not go live, there is the potential for other broadcasters to do so.

Court TV is not asking the court to set an edict against live coverage. However, in his memo, Brill did say he hoped other news organizations will follow the same parameters as Court TV, though he was not confident they would.

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