TBS offers restitution for flub

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Turner Broadcasting System and authorities in Massachusetts moved closer late last week to an agreement to pay the city of Boston and other municipalities for what they spent dealing with a terrorism alert that turned out to be a marketing misfire.

Turner and its guerrilla marketing agency, Interference Inc., were scheduled to meet today with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, other state agencies and the cities of Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.

"Turner Broadcasting has offered to pay restitution and other costs associated with the response and negotiation, and the company has been very cooperative with our office," Coakley said Friday. "At this time, we believe we are close to reaching finality in a resolution of this matter." But Coakley said negotiations were complicated because of how many agencies are involved.

It wasn't clear how much Turner and Interference will pay for the cost of responding to nine locations in Boston and neighboring Cambridge and Somerville for suspicious-looking packages that turned out to be lighted boxes heralding "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," which is part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block.

Coakley also said that the Attorney General's Office had begun to talk to the lawyers for two Boston-area men who were charged with disorderly conduct and placing a hoax device. A resolution to their cases also could be announced soon.

It was clear that the Atlanta-based TV company, a unit of Time Warner, already was paying big bucks to try to smooth things over in the Hub.

Turner Broadcasting took out full-page advertisements in the city's two daily newspapers, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. In the ads, Turner Broadcasting System chairman and CEO Phil Kent apologized for the incident and said that Turner never wanted or anticipated what happened.

Kent wrote that Turner will work with local authorities to find out what happened and then act responsibly.

"Our focus today and in the days ahead is on demonstrating to you the sincerity of our desire to do what is right," Kent wrote. "What happened in Boston is a humbling reminder that reputation is something we earn every day. We are working to regain your respect."

Whether heads will roll at Turner remains to be seen. Sources said the company was focused first on dealing with the incident and its ramifications before looking internally to assess blame.
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