'Report on child labour in India by British firm responsible'

America's major TV network HBO, sued by a British sporting goods company over a 2008 report about child labour in India, told a US jury that the report is "responsible" and claims against it were baseless.

New York: America's major TV network HBO, sued by a British sporting goods company over a 2008 report about child labour in India, told a US jury that the report is "responsible" and claims against it were baseless.

The trial into the libel case filed by Mitre Sports International against HBO began in the court here yesterday.

Mitre has denied a 2008 report on HBO that said the company used underaged workers in India to produce its soccer balls.

A report in the New York Post quoted HBO's lawyer Dane Butswinkas as saying that the HBO documentary that aired in September 2008 "was responsible if not generous to Mitre."

The lawyer said HBO went easy on the UK-based manufacturer, striking parts of the 'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel' report that questioned the extent to which Mitre should have known that subcontractors were using child labour.

HBO denied that it had targeted Mitre when it set out to investigate child labour conditions in India, the Post said.

Lawyers for HBO told jurors in opening arguments that the producers of 'Real Sports' were looking at big-name companies like Nike, Adidas and Pepsi when they found kids stitching Mitre-brand soccer balls in several parts of Jalandhar in India.

Mitre has claimed that HBO singled it out because it is a high-profile foreign manufacturer.

The HBO report accused Mitre of forcing kids to sew soccer balls in improper conditions and without sufficient compensation.

Mitre claims retailers such as Walmart dropped its products after the programme was aired.

The exhaustive report drew on 80 hours of footage, including five hours of material featuring children sewing balls, Butswinkas said.

Mitre, owned by UK-based Pentland, used some of that same video against HBO in its opening arguments.

Its lawyer Lloyd Constantine called the segment a "hoax" and showed jurors raw footage as evidence that HBO staged scenes and doctored footage.