GM wins apology over crash video

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The Independent Online
GENERAL MOTORS, beset by bad publicity and huge losses, has won a victory in its efforts to restore its public image by winning an apology for a misleading TV report about the safety of its vehicles.

NBC, the US television network, admitted that it rigged a crash demonstration of a GM pick-up truck, to ensure that it would explode on impact with another vehicle, in an investigative report it broadcast last November.

In the aftermath of the report, GM lost a product liability suit over the trucks, and was ordered by a jury to pay dollars 105m ( pounds 74m) in damages for alleged negligence.

NBC said that although its report described the videotape as an 'unscientific demonstration', it did not disclose the fact that its consultants had attached electric igniters to the underside of the truck to light any leaking petrol. While the consultants maintain that it was the headlamp of the oncoming car that started the fire shown on the crash tape, rather than the sparking device, NBC admitted that such dramatisations 'should have no part in serious news broadcasts'.

GM, which accepted the apology and dropped a defamation suit against NBC, has appealed against the jury award. The suit was based on other evidence, including damaging testimony from one of GM's safety engineers, and the company remains under considerable pressure to recall similar trucks sold between 1973 and 1987. A recall of the 4.7 million pick- ups still on the road would cost an estimated dollars 500m.

Today, GM is expected to announce a dollars 23.5bn loss for 1992, far outstripping the dollars 7bn record announced yesterday by rival Ford.