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Tue, Aug 02, 2011

Bizarre: Chinese-Owned Cirrus Attempts To Dictate Media Coverage of Cirrus Event

A Message From Their New Chinese Masters???

Just ten days before the annual Cirrus Owner's and Pilot's Association (COPA) 'Migration' in Colorado Springs, ANN as been informed by COPA officials that the internationally read aviation news service will not be allowed to webcast the event live later this month--despite specific plans,documents and understandings to the contrary. 

After earning extensive kudos for the work done last year at the 2010 event held in Dayton,OH; ANN was told that Cirrus Aircraft had 'discovered' that ANN was listed as a media partner with COPA and would be live-streaming portions of the event... including CEO Brent Wouters' address to the convention.

COPA officials indicated that Cirrus first attempted to have ANN removed from attending the event altogether (allegedly in response to recent critical editorial efforts... including the story that first broke the news that Cirrus was in the process of being sold to Chinese entities). COPA refused this demand... but did cave into the demand that ANN be replaced as the live streaming news partner for the event... with Cirrus paying for the service themselves and ostensibly able to exert some control over what they were paying for. According to COPA personnel, Cirrus had originally threatened to pull their sponsorship and participation from the event if ANN was not 'muzzled' in some form.

The word came barely ten days before the event and after ANN had expended considerable time and resources in preparation... as well as made agreements with sponsors to cover the event. At no time did COPA appear to have doubts (even after questions from ANN on the topic of Cirrus and their attitude toward ANN's coverage and recent questions about their conduct and business affairs) about ANN's coverage of the Migration activities until an afternoon phone call, on Monday, August 1st.

While some senior COPA officials deplored the decision and appeared very unhappy with the decision to bar significant sections of ANN's coverage of the event, COPA President Curt Sanford spun the matter in a less confrontational direction, "We're just trying to make Cirrus comfortable," said Sanford, while adding that ANN's coverage did appear to make Cirrus Aircraft 'quite uncomfortable.' Sanford, unlike other COPA members, refused to be pinned down as to what conversations had taken place with Cirrus, or what exactly was said but did admit that ANN's long-term agreement with COPA (as documented in a number of pieces of correspondence as well as multiple listings on the COPA website) was being broken and that he 'regretted' the decision. 

Aero-Analysis/Opinion: ANN is shocked and disappointed in the actions of COPA... especially in that they caved into a corporate management that a large portion of the Cirrus community appears unhappy with, and expresses such on a daily basis on the Association's message boards. ANN has attempted to seek and report the truth on a great many matters that reflect on both the Cirrus community as well as GA, at large, and has expressed, in detail, our reports, findings and concerns over what has happened with the company since Wouters presided over the ouster of former CEO Alan Klapmeier. As a Cirrus owner, and a (formerly) proud member of the COPA community (which has SO many good works to its credit that make this most revelation both incredibly surprising as well as supremely depressing), we are stunned at the import of this decision and the truly un-American implications involved.

ANN will attempt to attend the 9th Annual Migration in order to meet its proper commitments to the necessary journalism we see being required over this matter and following that, ANN CEO and Editor-In-Chief Jim Campbell will resign his membership in the Cirrus Owner's and Pilot's Association.

Campbell noted that, "No journalist has any business being a member of any organization that would countenance such censorship from any company... much less one now under Communist Chinese state control... I regret this greatly but my conscience dictates that I can not support an organization that agrees to such apparently extortionate and un-American tactics. I have SO enjoyed being a part of COPA... I love my airplane... I have so many friends in this community... but I do not trust the current management of Cirrus and believe that a Federal investigation into this company's actions is required... and these most recent tactics only confirm my deep and abiding belief that something is very wrong with what was once an iconic American aviation success story. What a sad situation...."

FMI:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitutionwww.cirrusaircraft.com,  www.cirrusowners.org

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