Saturday, November 24, 2007

marina kolbe

federal jury in Atlanta on Wednesday determined that CNN did not engage in either race or age discrimination when the network declined in 2003 to renew the contract of a roaming anchor at CNN International.

After deliberating five hours over two days, the jury of five women and one man, and a sixth female alternate, said in post-trial interviews that they found virtually no evidence to suggest that former anchor Marina Kolbe, then 42, had been let go from CNNI in 2003 and subsequently rejected as a freelancer because CNN wanted to replace her with younger or minority on-air talent.

Jurors said that memos between network executives outlining an aggressive push by CNN beginning in 1999 to place minorities in designated jobs, while troubling, were not enough to prove that CNN had discriminated specifically against Kolbe, who is white. Jurors also said they were not convinced that CNNI's hiring of six anchors of South Asian origin as part of a publicized business initiative to tailor international broadcasts to a South Asian audience influenced the network's decision not to renew Kolbe's contract.

Though it didn't take long for the jury to find for CNN, they expressed sympathy for Kolbe. Jury forewoman Kathy Fuller said, "We think she [Kolbe] was treated badly. … There was no question they [CNN] did her wrong."

Troutman Sanders trial counsel Charles A. Hawkins II didn't comment to the Daily Report after the verdict. CNN chief editorial counsel David Vigilante referred questions to CNN public affairs.

CNN spokesman Nigel Pritchard told the Daily Report, "We are obviously pleased with the jury's verdict. It not only shows that CNN does not discriminate, but also validates CNN's commitment to diversity."

Kolbe's counsel, Edward D. Buckley III, said, "We feel we tried a good case. We tried to shine a light on something we thought was very, very wrong at CNN and at Turner Broadcasting
claimed the news network discriminated against her because she was older and white has lost her lawsuit.

A U.S. District Court jury deliberated for five hours before deciding Wednesday in favor of CNN, which claimed that Marina Kolbe's contract was not renewed because of her average performance and failure to improve.

Kolbe had worked in Atlanta for CNN's International division for four years when in 2003 the network failed to renew her contract. Kolbe, then 42, was replaced by a South Asian anchor.

"We are obviously pleased with the jury's verdict. It not only shows that CNN does not discriminate, but also validates CNN's commitment to diversity," the network said in a statement.

Kolbe's attorney, Edward Buckley, says his client has not had permanent employment since leaving the network.

"The young and beautiful will do well in the business as long as they are young and beautiful," he said.

The case took four years to reach the courtroom, where the trial lasted three weeks.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed


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