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SUPREME COURT DECISION ON BOSTON GLOBE CASE AFFIRMS PROTECTION FOR OPINION

 SUPREME COURT DECISION ON BOSTON GLOBE CASE AFFIRMS
 PROTECTION FOR OPINION
 BOSTON, June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, in a decision not to review a libel case against The Boston Globe, let stand a lower court ruling that provides protection for opinion columns that previously was thought to be eroded under a 1990 Supreme Court decision.
 The high court, without comment, refused to review Phantom Touring Company vs. Affiliated Publications, Globe Newspaper Company, et. alia.
 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled in the case on Jan. 10, that newspaper opinion columns are protected by the First Amendment when the columnist discloses the facts underlying his views. The First Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed the libel suit brought by Phantom Touring Co., a theater production company, against The Boston Globe. Phantom had alleged it was defamed in a series of 1989 articles by Globe theater critic Kevin Kelly.
 Kelly's columns suggested that the company benefitted from and contributed to public confusion over the highly successful Broadway version of "The Phantom of the Opera" created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Phantom Touring's less critically acclaimed musical comedy version of the show.
 The First Circuit ruling was significant in light of Milkovich v. Lorain Journal, a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court case that suggested columns expressing opinions have no greater protections than news columns. In Milkovich, the court said statements in opinion columns that cannot reasonably be interpreted as stating facts are still protected, but statements that can be proved false or true can be the subject of court action.
 Milkovich created uncertainty in the news media about the degree of protection given opinion columns. But the First Circuit ruling and the high court's action on Monday, according to E. Susan Garsh, a lawyer from the Boston law firm of Bingham, Dana & Gould representing the Globe, should "make columnists breathe much easier."
 "The Supreme Court's denial of certiorari marks the end of a three-year legal attempt to stifle vigorous expressions of opinions. Milkovich created widespread misgivings that protection of opinion had been eroded.
 "The First Circuit decision eliminates those concerns. It holds that language is immune from liability under the First Amendment when the 'sum effect of the format, tone and entire content' of an article makes it clear that only a point of view is being expressed. Thus, it is for the reader -- not a judge -- to decide whether a columnist's opinion is well-founded.
 ---
 NOTE: E. Susan Garsh of Bingham, Dana & Gould, 617-951-8473.
 -0- 6/9/92
 /CONTACT: Richard P. Gulla of The Boston Globe, 617-929-3288/
 (AFP) CO: The Boston Globe; Phantom Touring Co.; Affiliated Publications ST: Massachusetts IN: PUB SU: LEG


SH -- NE016 -- 8524 06/09/92 16:54 EDT
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Date:Jun 9, 1992
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