Many visitors to the site have used the FAX FOR FREE feature to send notes to Fox management. Fox is replying with copies of a prepared news release issued when the suit was filed. Here is the full text of that release, followed by a link to reaction to this release from Jane Akre and Steve Wilson.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 2, 1998

WTVT RESPONDS TO STEVE WILSON AND JANE AKRE

The husband and wife team of Steve Wilson and Jane Akre were each hired under individual contracts as investigative reporters by the previous management of WTVT-TV before Fox Television Stations, Inc. acquired the station in January 1997. Mr. Wilson was employed as a ten hour a week reporter while Ms. Akre split her full-time duties as weekend morning anchor and investigative reporter. Journalistic differences arose between the new management and Mr. Wilson and Ms. Akre and the station exercised its contractual right to terminate the agreements effective December, 1997.


Wilson and Akre were developing a story claiming a hormone added to some of Florida's milk supply could be linked to cancer. The station ended the employment of the Wilson/Akre team when it became apparent that their journalistic differences could not be resolved despite the station's extraordinary efforts to complete this story. In the view of the station's news management, the reporters were not willing to be objective in the story nor accept editorial oversight and news counsel. Specifically, the station categorically denies that it ever asked Wilson or Akre to include false information in the piece, nor did Wilson or Akre ever identify any such false information. The station merely required the reporters to substantiate the claims made in their story which is standard operating procedure in a responsible newsroom.


In fact, this proposed report was not new to Fox or to the national media. This issue had already been covered by Fox Television Stations and other media outlets.


During a ten month period in 1997 many hours were devoted to reviewing this piece by station management and lawyers in an attempt to make the report journalistically sound. Ultimately the station stood by its standards of fairness and balance in its reporting despite the reporters' threats of retaliation.


The station then offered Wilson and Akre to continue their employment contracts as consultants to the station. The reporters did not accept this proposal which can in no way be characterized as "hush" money.


WTVT-TV is proud of its journalistic standards and traditions and has no hesitation about defending its actions in a court of law.


According to the station's News Director, Philip Metlin, "We are completely puzzled by the charges made by Mr. and Mrs. Wilson and I am saddened that they have chosen to attack what I consider the best TV station in the State of Florida. We have a 43 year history of providing Tampa Bay viewers with fair and objective news reporting as evidenced by our four consecutive years of being honored by the Associated Press for producing the "Best Newscast in Florida".


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Contact: David Boylan
(813)870-9601, Fax: (813)870-9775

Steve Wilson & Jane Akre's response to this release
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