MANHATTAN (CN) – The English company Mitre Sports International is suing Home Box Office over a show called “Childhood Lost,” that showed young Indian children getting paid 5 cents an hour to make Mitre soccer balls. Mitre says the show is defamatory because the kids were sewing balls for other companies, as well.
The kids were making balls for lots of companies, says Mitre. Mitre Sports International claims it was defamed in the Sept. 16 show, “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”
Mitre claims the show was rebroadcast at least 55 times, and is available from HBO on demand.
The show, “Childhood Lost” or “Children of Industry,” depicted “children stitching soccer balls in two Indian cities, Jalandhar and Meerut,” the complaint states. “The children were variously portrayed as being paid 5 cents per hour, or nothing at all, since many were said to be bonded laborers working to repay loans given to their parents by soccer ball manufacturers. The program detailed inhumane working conditions and the children’s loss of schooling, hope, and their very childhood.
“Despite explicitly stating that Real Sports had found ‘at least 10 international brands’ of soccer balls being stitched by children, the report falsely, maliciously, and intentionally mentions and targets one and only one brand, Mitre. Mitre Sports International Limited (Mitre), a company which has played a leading role in the international effort to eliminate child labor in the manufacture of soccer balls, does not permit child labor. Mitre obtained and presented HBO proof of the falsity of the program’s statements concerning Mitre prior to its first broadcast. Childhood Lost falsely, intentionally and maliciously perpetrates a hoax on Mitre and the millions of viewers who watched the initial and subsequent HBO broadcasts and who have viewed the program on YouTube and other Internet sites.
“HBO refused Mitre’s request that the report not air until Mitre could fully demonstrate the false and defamatory nature of the allegations concerning Mitre. After the first broadcast, HBO refused Mitre’s demand that it cease additional broadcasts and secondary distribution of the report and its contents.”
Mitre is represented in Federal Court by Lloyd Constantine with Constantine Cannon.
This 20-page complaint contains an additional 40 pages of attachments.