Colorado court says shield law protects unaired Dateline footage

Cristina Abello | Reporter's Privilege | Quicklink | February 4, 2010

A Colorado district court has denied an insurance marketing company's motion to compel NBC's Dateline to hand over unaired camera footage.

Insurance marketer Brokers' Choice of America sued NBC and its owner, General Electric, after two Dateline producers posed as insurance agents from Alabama to gain access to an educational seminar on insurance sales practices, The Denver Post reported early last year.

Brokers' Choice alleged that it needed the footage to prove its allegations against NBC, which include defamation, fraud, trespassing, intrusion of privacy and civil rights violations. The suit named Dateline reporter Chris Hansen and two producers as defendants, along with the network and parent company.

District Judge Christine M. Arguello affirmed a lower court's order denying the motion to compel the unaired footage, citing Colorado's shield law. The state law says that in order to subpoena materials from a newsperson the information sought must not be available from any other source.

In this case, the court affirmed the magistrate judge’s finding that because Clark had given the seminar and the company had access to recordings of similar lectures, Dateline did not have to provide it for the lawsuit to proceed.