HBO wins case against Mitre
NEW YORK (AP) – HBO did not defame a British sporting-goods company with a report that showed children in India stitching the company’s soccer balls, a federal jury in Manhattan has decided.
Friday’s verdict came after a month-long trial over a 2008 instalment of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that dealt with child labour.
Mitre Sports International said it was libelled when it was the only company identified in the broadcast that showed children in the Jalandhar region of India stitching soccer balls (footballs) for five cents an hour.
“They have no childhood,” children’s rights advocate Kailash Satyarthi said in the segment. “They have no freedom.”
Mitre attorney Lloyd Constantine told jurors that HBO had delivered a “pack of lies” and “reckless and intentional falsity” to its viewers by overlooking the fact that Mitre goes to great lengths to prevent child labour in the sporting goods industry.
Gumbel, the programme’s host, testified that the report was the kind of hard-hitting journalism he had in mind when he created a monthly sports magazine.
Mitre said in a statement it was disappointed with the verdict.
“We may have lost the case, but the fact remains that Mitre has, and always will, continue its work with organizations to eliminate child labour,” the statement said.
An HBO spokesman said the network was delighted with the jury’s decision.