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Two TV News Executives Fired Amid Computer-Tapping Allegations

March 15, 1989

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A TV station has fired two news executives in the wake of allegations that one tapped into the newsroom computers of a competing station.

WTSP, an ABC affiliate in St. Petersburg, announced on Tuesday the firings of assistant news director Michael I. Shapiro, 33, and news director Terry Cole, 32.

Vince Barresi, WTSP vice president and general manager, told viewers during the 11 p.m. newscast that the station acted to ″avoid any questions about the objective way we do our business in keeping the public informed.″

Shapiro was charged in February with 14 computer-related counts in an alleged series of raids on the confidential news files at CBS affiliate WTVT. Each charge carries up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Shapiro had been an assignment manager WTVT, where he helped set up security for the computer system. He was hired by Cole in September.

Officials would not elaborate on Cole’s part in the case.

Law enforcement and TV industry officials have called Shapiro’s case the first of its kind involving tampering with a television newsroom computer.

Bob Franklin, WTVT interim news director, said, ″I said at the outset that we regard this as a very serious matter and we’ll take whatever steps necessary to see that this never happens again.″

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