IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
 IN AND FOR HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA
 

STEVE WILSON 
and JANE AKRE, 
                               Plaintiffs, 

V.                                                                         CASE NO. 98-2439 Div. B 

NEW WORLD COMMUNICATIONS 
OF TAMPA, INC. d/b/a WTVT-TV, a 
Florida corporation, 
                                Defendants 
___________________________________// 
 

MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

        DEFENDANT NEW WORLD COMMUNICATIONS OF TAMPA, INC., by and through undersigned counsel pursuant to Fla. R_ Civ. P. 1.280, requests this court to protect New World against certain discovery until the Court has ruled upon its First Amendment objections to the complaint filed herein, and says: 

        1. On April 15, 1998, Plaintiffs served their 29-page, three count complaint upon New World, together with 129 pages and one videotape of exhibits. 

        2. By even date herewith, New World has filed its Motion to Dismiss and has raised a First Amendment objection to the justifiability of the pre-broadcast review process upon which all three of Plaintiffs causes of action appear to be predicated. In sum, Plaintiffs object to New World's attempt to introduce balance and fairness into the

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subject news report, which was never aired. New World's editorial discretion and judgment should not and cannot be the subject of second-guessing by a judge or jury, consistent with the First Amendment. 

        3. The type of intrusion into the editorial al process is unprecedented 'in the reported case law and has the real potential to chill the give-and-take essential in any newsroom in getting the news on the air in a timely and responsible manner. 

        4. The risk of the chilling effect is sufficient good cause to warrant a short delay in subjecting the participants in the pre-broadcast review process to discovery, until this Court rules with finality on the legal issues raised in New World's motion to dismiss, which is presently set for hearing on June 23, 1998. See Deftona Corp. v. Bailey, 336 So.2d 1163 (Fla. 1976) (trial court has discretion to regulate timing of discovery until legal issues decided). 

        5. Furthermore, since the filing of their lawsuit, Plaintiffs have entered into a course of conduct, attacking New World and its parent Fox Television Stations, Inc. in the local and national media, including baseless allegations against at least one individual wholly unconnected to this matter. On at least one occasion, one of the Plaintiffs announced that discovery would be used to further their extra-judicial public relations campaign. While Plaintiffs are entitled to express their opinions to whomever will listen, they are not entitled to use the Court discovery processes in such a manner. This conduct amounts to harassment and annoyance of the type contemplated by the Rules, and New World should be protected from the needless expense and distraction of 

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discovery going to the pre-broadcast review, until the Court decides whether, legally, the review is even a proper part of the Plaintiffs' claims. 

        WHEREFORE New World Communications of Tampa, Inc. respectfully requests this Court order protecting it from discovery going to the pre-broadcast review process until the Court has ruled with finality upon the legal grounds raised by New World, and such other and further relief as to the Court seems just and appropriate. 

 

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