Episode Information

FRONTLINE: Cell Tower Deaths
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In this episode:

The deadly, hidden cost of cellular infrastructure construction jobs.



TUE 2/21/2012

10:00PM on CPTV
(Check Listings)



The demand for better and faster cell phone service comes with a hidden cost. This joint investigation by FRONTLINE and ProPublica has found that the independent contractors who are building and servicing America’s cellular infrastructure are 10 times more likely than an average construction worker to die on the job. Complex layers of subcontracting insulate the carriers against liability, despite the fact that they set the aggressive schedule that can force subcontractors to cut corners in order to meet deadlines. Also this hour: FRONTLINE profiles the case of six-month-old Isis Vas, whose death was deemed “a clear-cut and classic” case of child abuse, sending a man named Ernie Lopez to prison for 60 years. But a Texas judge has moved to overturn Lopez’s conviction, and new questions are being asked about the quality of expert testimony in this and many other similar cases. In this joint report with ProPublica and NPR, FRONTLINE correspondent A.C. Thompson unearths more than 20 child death cases in which people were jailed on medical evidence—involving abuse, assault, and “shaken baby syndrome”—that was later found unreliable or flat-out wrong.

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