New York Legislative Update – Liability for Broadcasting Medical Treatment Does Not Pass

Once again, NY Assemblyman Ed Braunstein proposed legislation (A420B) that increased the risk of stations being sued for broadcasting medical procedures without the consent of the patient.  The legislation was designed to require hospitals and broadcasters to obtain written permission before broadcasting images of the patient being treated. Unfortunately, the legislation defined ambulances as a medical facility, thereby requiring broadcasters to obtain a written consent from the patient even if they were being treated in a public street.  As a result, stations would expose themselves to liability when covering riots, terrorist attacks, accidents or events such as 9/11.  Moreover, it would effectively prevent investigative coverage of any hospital.  Most of the recent COVID 19 coverage would have exposed stations to potential liability.

NY State Senator Liz Krueger introduced a separate bill S. 1693B, that exempts any video broadcast as part of the news.  We supported this legislation.

(e) Nothing in this section shall apply where the recognizable image or speech is produced by a news department or news division and is broadcast or conveyed as part of a newscast, investigative news program or news report in any electronic or printed form. This section shall not apply to images or speech that has been obtained by professional journalists, newscasters or other individuals or entities recognized by section seventy-nine-h of the civil rights law (i.e., NY State Shield Law).

It expressly exempts coverage from a public street. Liability would apply only if you broadcast from inside an ambulance (with all of the doors shut) and the video was not part of a news cast.  Last week, Senator Krueger’s bill passed the Senate

Under NY law, the Senate and Assembly language must be exactly the same to pass.  Assemblyman Braunstein did not amend his bill. As a result, neither bill passed.

To see a copy of Assemblyman Braunstein’s Bill A.420B click HERE.

To s a copy of Sen. Krueger’s Bill S1693B click HERE.

 

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