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Holding TV News Hostage

February 27, 1988

As a working journalist and a former international news bureau employee, I am in full agreement with Howard Rosenberg ("Tears and Tape Show TV's Power to Sway Millions," Feb. 24) and ABC's decision not to run the "demands" tape of Lt. Col. William Higgins' captors.

It is about time that our national network news stations refuse to act as pawns for international terrorism. By showing a captors' "demands" tape, those networks that did run the tape might as well have had a gun to their news anchors' heads because they are also held hostage for that moment.

No censorship is implied here--the press should have the right to decide if these tapes should be aired--but I can't help feeling that the networks could cooperate, via some type of committee, to mutually decide when to not air something.

Sure, it's always likely that some ratings-hungry program will air such a tape but, as Rosenberg points out, any station that refuses to give in to the will of terrorist groups is doing its viewing audience and our United States citizens a tremendous favor.

Terrorists may be accused of being inhumane, insane and unreasonable, but they're not dumb, they're market-driven. And ever since the first media-wise terrorists supplied the first "demands" tape, the American news media have been playing right into their hands and have been, in effect, held hostage.

RICH BORDEN

Westlake Village

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