Company sues government in bid to Webcast McVeigh execution

Tuesday, April 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ An Internet company asked a federal judge Tuesday for permission to show live video of Timothy McVeigh's execution over the Web, saying people have a First Amendment right to watch.

Federal law allows the media to be present at an execution, but does not allow any sound- or video-recording devices.

The law is being challenged by Entertainment Network Inc., a Tampa, Fla., company that made its name with, which allowed viewers to watch the daily activities of female college students via 55 Webcams in their home.

ENI wants to send one person into the execution chamber with a video camera that would feed live footage to the Web. ENI attorney Derek Newman said ENI would also accept the feed from the closed-circuit video that will be relayed to victims' families in Oklahoma City.

The judge said he will decide the case by Friday.

The Oklahoma City bomber is scheduled to die by injection May 16 at the federal prison in Terre Haute.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerald Coraz said barring cameras from executions does not hinder news coverage, since media witnesses are always allowed in.

``The Constitution does not require that those who wish to record courts or executions be allowed to do so,'' Coraz said. ``The legislatures of every state that has executions, and the federal government, have decided that executions should not be public spectacles.''

Newman argued that a camera will show the public what happens during an execution in an unbiased manner. Coraz said the warden of the prison feels a Webcast would be a possible security problem.

ENI said it would use parental controls to keep children from viewing the execution, and would charge viewers $1.95. It said the money would be donated to charities established for the 168 people killed in the bombing.