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By the Defamation Act, 1952, it is provided that, for the purposes of the law of libel and slander, the broadcasting of words for general reception by means of wireless telegraphy shall be treated as publication in permanent form, that is to say, as libel.
The complaint is based upon a telecast of "The Stork Club Show" over a nationwide network of stations and facilities, including Station WABC-TV. Defendant Stork operates "The Stork Club", defendant Mayfair prepared and produced "The Stork Club Show", defendant American Broadcasting telecast the show, and defendant Billingsley acted as a performer and master of ceremonies on the show. Toots Shor alleged that he was defamed by defendants' ad-libbed radio broadcast, and that defendants' used his name and picture for their commercial advantage. Defendants' filed a motion to dismiss, contending that there was nothing defamatory in the portion of the dialogue complained of. The court denied defendants' motion as to the first three causes of action for libel, but granted the fourth, as the civil rights action merged into the libel action. Shor filed for reargument. The motion was granted.
Was libel the proper cause of action based upon a telecast not read from a prepared script?
The court held that it was proper for Shor to allege both a libel and civil rights cause of action in order that the sufficiency of each may be separately examined. However, Shor was not entitled to recover twice under both theories.