ABC News Bans Paying Interview Subjects

6:14 AM PST 07/26/2011 by THR Staff
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The network has come under fire in recent years after spending hundreds of thousands to license photos in exchange for sit-downs.

ABC News has announced the end of its policy of paying subjects licensing fees for photos and video in exchange for interviews, says news president Ben Sherwood.

“We can book just about anyone based on the strength of our journalism, the excellence of our anchors, correspondents, and producers, and the size of our audience. These licensing deals had become a crutch, and an unnecessary one," ABC spokesperson Jeffrey Schneider tells The Daily Beast.

The news comes as the network faces increasing scrutiny for moves such as giving Casey Anthony $200,000 in 2008 for photos of her daughter, Caylee, shortly before she was arrested and charged with killing her. ABC has also recently admitted to paying $15,000 for photos from a woman former Rep. Anthony Weiner allegedly had a relationship with, and an investigator who stumbled upon Caylee's remains.

ABC had to apologize after it featured a woman who supposedly gave her 8-year-old daughter Botox on Good Morning America -- which turned out to be a hoax. The network withheld a previously agreed $10,000 payment.

Paying "licensing fees" for stories is "one of the things we have to deal with in the business," 20/20 anchor Chris Cuomo told The Daily Beast. "I wish money was not in the game, but you know it's going to go somewhere else. You know someone else is going to pay for the same things.”

But Schneider says that's not a concern as long as the integrity of the newsroom is maintained.

“Will we lose a booking here and there? Sure,” he said. “Are those lost bookings equal to the credibility of ABC News? Not in any way, shape, or form.”

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