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Chapter 52 - Defamation

Chapter 52 - Defamation

43.5201 Defamation.


Defamation is effected by:

(1) libel which is a false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy or which causes him to be shunned or avoided or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.

(2) slander which is a false and unprivileged publication other than libel which:

(A) charges any person with crime or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for crime;

(B) imputes in him the present existency of an infectious, contagious, or loathsome disease;

(C) tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade, or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profit;

(D) imputes to him impotence or want of chastity; or

(E) by natural consequence causes actual damage.

43.5202 Privileged publication.


A privileged publication is one made:

(1) in the proper discharge of an official duty;

(2) in any legislative or judicial proceeding or in any other official proceeding authorized by law;

(3) in a communication without malice to a person interested therein by one who is also interested or by one who stands in such relation to the person interested as to afford a reasonable ground for supposing the motive for the communication innocent or who is requested by the person interested to give the information;

(4) by a fair and true report without malice of a judicial, legislative, or other public official proceeding or of anything said in the course thereof.

43.5203 Radio station and television facility-Liability.


(a) No person, firm, or corporation owning or operating a radio broadcasting station or TV facility is liable under the law of defamation on account of having made its broadcasting facilities available to any person, whether a candidate for public office or any other person, for discussion of controversial or any other subjects in the absence of proof of actual malice on the part of such owner or operator.

(b) This section may not be construed to relieve any person broadcasting over a radio station or TV facility from liability under the law of defamation.

(c) This section may not be construed to relieve any person, firm, or corporation owning or operating a radio broadcasting station or TV facility from liability under the law of defamation on account of any broadcast prepared or made by any such person, firm, or corporation or by any officer or employee thereof in the course of his employment.

43.5204 Media management to be given opportunity to publish correction prior to action for libel or slander.


(a) Before any civil action may be commenced on account of any defamatory publication in any newspaper, periodical, or radio or television station, the libeled person shall first give those alleged to be responsible or liable for the publication a reasonable opportunity to correct the libelous or defamatory matter. The opportunity must be given by notice in writing specifying the article and the statements therein which are claimed to be false and defamatory and a statement of what are claimed to be the true facts. The notice may also state the sources, if any, from which the true facts may be ascertained with definiteness and certainty.

(b) One week following receipt of notice is within a reasonable time for correction.

43.5205 Content of correction.


To the extent that the true facts are, with reasonable diligence, ascertainable with definiteness and certainty, only a retraction constitutes a correction. Otherwise the publication of the libeled person’s statement of the true facts or so much thereof as would not be libelous of another, scurrilous, or otherwise improper for publication, published as his statement, constitutes a correction.

43.5206 Extent to which a correction is a defense upon trial.


If it appears upon trial that the publication was made under honest mistake or misapprehension, then a correction timely published without comment in a position and type as prominent as the alleged libel or in a broadcast made at the same time of day as the broadcast complained of and of at least equal duration shall constitute a defense against the recovery of any damages except actual damages, as well as being competent and material in mitigation of actual damages to the extent the correction published does so mitigate them.