Torts II, Pages 903–904

Shor v. Billingsley

Supreme Court of New York, 1956

Facts:

Defendant made an ad-libbed joke about how in-debt plaintiff was on TV. Plaintiff sued for defamation.

Issue:

Is a defamatory statement made on TV without a script libel or slander?

Reasoning:

Programming read from a script has been held to be libel. Without a script it lacks the durability possessed by written libel, but TV can reach as many people as written publication can. Therefore, defamation by radio should be actionable per se.

Holding:

Defamation by radio is defamation per se. Motion to dismiss denied.

Note:

The court does not actually answer their question. A majority of states today say that it is libel regardless of whether it is scripted or not, but some states have statues that say it is slander whether it is scripted or not.


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