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It’s no secret that reality TV can be heavily manipulated, scripted and edited for the sake of entertainment. But according to star David Hester, manipulation on the set of A&E Network’s “Storage Wars” borders on illegal. Hester claims that the show, in which bidders get a few minutes to inspect auction items released from storage, is rigged. After raising concerns with the show’s producers, Hester claims he was wrongfully fired.
Now Hester is suing the network, arguing that the show planted items to be auctioned off, including a BMW Mini. Hester’s claim alleges that A&E’s conduct is “fraudulent” and “possibly illegal,” citing the Communications Act of 1934, “which makes it illegal for broadcasters to rig a contest of intellectual skill with the intent to deceive the viewing public.” The Hollywood Reporter explains, however, that Hester’s lawsuit relies on a specific interpretation of the Communications Act:
His claims are premised on the theory that corporations aren’t allowed to terminate for acts that are an alleged violation of public policy. After several quiz show scandals in the 1950s, Congress passed an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 to prevent people from fixing game shows, although it’s debatable whether a reality series like Storage Wars applies.
An old A&E press release quoted in Hester’s complaint states, “There is no staging involved. The items uncovered in the storage units are the actual items featured on the show.” Hester argues, however, that “nearly every aspect of the series is faked.”
Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at email@example.com.More Prachi Gupta.