Pa. TV station doesn’t have to turn over unaired footage

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Pennsylvania judge has rescinded a court order compelling a television station to produce unaired footage of a house fire, The Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre reports.

Last month police obtained a search warrant for the footage. But when station officials at WNEP-TV refused to give police access to the footage, police sought and obtained a court order for the unedited film.

The television station challenged the order, arguing it could not be compelled under Pennsylvania’s shield law to turn over the raw video.  Journalists have an absolute privilege under the shield law from having to disclose unpublished material to law enforcement.

The newspaper reported that the judge didn’t address the shield-law argument when she withdrew the order last week, but she questioned the propriety of the television station’s decision to ignore the search warrant.