A federal judge Wednesday denied a company's bid to Webcast the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Entertainment Network Inc., a Tampa, Fla., company, challenged federal law that does not allow any sound- or video-recording devices at executions, saying people have a First Amendment right to watch.
ENI wanted 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 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.
But U.S. District Court Judge John D. Tinder found that U.S. law designates the Attorney General as the supervisor of all federal executions and that regulations strictly limit who can witness the execution and prohibit "photographic or visual or audio recording of the execution."
He also cited a previous case where a judge had established that the press has "no constitutional right of access to prisons or their inmates beyond that afforded the general public."
ENI could appeal the ruling.
The company made its name with VoyeurDorm.com, which allowed viewers to watch the daily activities of female college students via 55 Webcams in their home.
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