The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER
This matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss the complaint against all defendants for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In addition, the motion seeks dismissal of the complaint against several defendants for insufficient service of process.
The plaintiffs are the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika ("Provisional Government" or "Republic") and its co-presidents, Imari Abubakari Obadele and Dara Abubakari. They allege that the Provisional Government represents the "elected group of persons exercising sovereignty for that portion of the New Afrikan nation in North America which seeks independence and that portion which would choose independence if they were apprised of their right to an independent nation-state and knew of the struggle to win independence . . . ." Complaint at para. 2. The defendants American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. ("ABC"), two of its unincorporated divisions, WJLA-TV, Inc. ("WJLA") and several individuals
are charged with defaming the Provisional Government during news broadcasts and deliberately excluding references to activities surrounding its "campaign for independence." The defendants are collectively referred to as ABC, where appropriate.
The complaint is based in large part on defamation claims, in addition to alleged violations of the First and Thirteenth Amendments, and invasion of rights protected by 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1985(3). For the reasons stated below, the Court determines that the complaint should be dismissed as to all claims other than allegations of common law defamation against defendants ABC and WJLA arising from a television news broadcast on April 20, 1983. Accordingly, the defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.
The plaintiffs filed this action on April 19, 1984. The major focus of the complaint is the charge that on or about April 20 or 21, 1983, ABC broadcast a news story which associated the Provisional Government with the 1981 Brinks robbery, and thus linked it "to a pattern of criminality and terrorism." Complaint at para. 4. The plaintiffs now apparently conclude that the broadcast occurred on April 20, 1983. Opposition to Motion to Dismiss at 1, 8, filed June 25, 1984. ABC agrees that on that date its reporter, Ms. Hilary Brown, commented on the Brinks robbery on a broadcast of "World News Tonight". A transcript of the broadcast is attached as Ex. A to the Affidavit of Donald Martin, filed May 29, 1984 ("Transcript"). The complaint also states that ABC has at other times defamed the Provisional Government, including but not limited to October and November of 1981. The substance of these alleged defamations is not specified in the complaint.
The plaintiffs have since clarified the nature of defamatory allegations concerning the April 20 broadcast. They concede that although the April 20 broadcast did not refer to the Provisional Government by name, the defamation was accomplished by a combination of "words and  graphic illustration." Id. Opposition at 8. They assert that the broadcast pictured a streamer with the name "Republic of New Africa" at the same time Ms. Brown, in referring to the Brinks robbery, stated
that because of one vicious bungled crime a year and a half ago, some of the most radical, most violent protest groups of the '60's are being brought to trial as common criminals.
Id. at 9; Transcript at 9-10. The defendants disagree with this characterization of the timing of the appearance of the streamer. ABC states that the streamer flashed across the screen earlier in the broadcast, when Ms. Brown stated that:
the Brinks holdup came to be seen by the FBI as part of a complex pattern of racketeering involving a very mixed bag of people who differed widely in background and political affiliation and whose activities range from running drugs and prostitution rings to preaching revolution and radical feminism.
Defendants' Reply at 2; Transcript at 9. The parties have not stated whether any members of the Provisional Government were in fact defendants in the Brinks trial.
The defendants invoke a number of grounds for dismissal of the complaint. Their arguments are premised on the plaintiffs' alleged failure to effect service of process on all defendants save ABC, the statute of limitations, the sufficiency of the defamatory allegations, the protection of the First Amendment, and the adequacy of the claims stated under the ...