Hostages, families sue TV over Paris terror attack coverage

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PARIS (AP) -- Families of the hostages of a radical gunman who killed four in a kosher supermarket are suing a French broadcaster over its live coverage of the attack, saying it endangered the hostages' lives.

Paris prosecutor's office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said Friday that a preliminary investigation has been opened into the coverage by BFM all-news television, on possible charges of "putting others' lives in danger." She said it is too early to say what kind of fines or sentences the broadcaster might face.

BFM would not immediately comment Friday.

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Hostages, families sue TV over Paris terror attack coverage
FILE - This is a Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 file photo of a security officer directs released hostages after they stormed a kosher market to end a hostage situation, Paris. Explosions and gunshots were heard as police forces stormed a kosher grocery in Paris where a gunman was holding at least five people hostage. At the kosher supermarket in Paris, a quick-thinking Muslim employee hides several Jewish shoppers in the basement before sneaking out to brief police on the hostage-taker upstairs. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
A hooded police officer crosses the closed ring road that circles Paris near a hostage-taking situation at a kosher market in Paris, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. A police official said the man who has taken at least five people hostage in a kosher market in Paris appears linked to the newsroom massacre earlier this week that left 12 people dead. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Watched by the media a woman lays a flower tribute at the site of the attack on a kosher market in Paris, France, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. France's government urged the nation to remain vigilant Saturday, as thousands of security forces try to thwart any potential new attacks and hunt down a suspected accomplice in a rampage by terrorists linked to al-Qaida in Yemen that scarred the nation and left 20 dead. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
A security officer directs released hostages after they stormed a kosher market to end a hostage situation, Paris, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Explosions and gunshots were heard as police forces stormed a kosher grocery in Paris where a gunman was holding at least five people hostage. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 10: Bullet holes can be seen at the kosher market 'Hyper Cacher', which suffered a terrorist attack yesterday, on January 10, 2015 in Paris, France. Four hostages and three suspects were killed when police ended two separate sieges at a kosher supermarket and a printing company on an industrial estate, following Wednesday's deadly attack on 'Charlie Hebdo' french satirical magazine. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)
Police officers detain youth who riding a scooter outside a hostage-taking situation at a kosher market in Paris, Friday Jan.9, 2015. France's anti-terrorism prosecutor says a shooting and hostage-taking attack is underway at a kosher market on the eastern edge of Paris. A police official said there are multiple hostages and wounded at the scene. It is not known if the two youths were involved in the hostage taking situation. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Security officers escort released hostages after they stormed a kosher market to end a hostage situation, Paris, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Explosions and gunshots were heard as police forces stormed a kosher grocery in Paris where a gunman was holding at least five people hostage. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Police officers detain youth who riding a scooter outside a hostage-taking situation at a kosher market in Paris, Friday Jan.9, 2015. France's anti-terrorism prosecutor says a shooting and hostage-taking attack is underway at a kosher market on the eastern edge of Paris. A police official said there are multiple hostages and wounded at the scene. It is not known if the two youths were involved in the hostage taking situation. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A body is wheeled away from a kosher grocery store which was the scene of a hostage taking in Paris, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. A Paris prosecutor said that gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed four people when he entered the kosher market in eastern Paris on Friday. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Hooded police officers cross the closed ring road that circles Paris near a hostage-taking situation at a kosher market in Paris, Friday Jan. 9, 2015. A police official says the man who has taken at least five people hostage in a kosher market in Paris appears linked to the newsroom massacre earlier this week that left 12 people dead. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Police officers take their positions near a hostage situation at a kosher market, in Paris, Friday Jan. 9, 2015. A police official says the man who has taken at least five people hostage in a kosher market on the eastern edges of Paris Friday appears linked to the newsroom massacre earlier this week that left 12 people dead. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A police officer closes the bullet ridden door next to a body lying in the kosher market, in Paris, Friday Jan. 9, 2015. What started as a hunt for two terror suspects took on an even graver focus Friday as French police grappled with a potential terrorist cell. The suspects knew each other, had been linked to previous terrorist activities, and one had fought or trained with Al Qaida in Yemen. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Police officers prepare to remove a body lying outside the kosher market, in Paris, Friday Jan. 9, 2015. What started as a hunt for two terror suspects took on an even graver focus Friday as French police grappled with a potential terrorist cell. The suspects knew each other, had been linked to previous terrorist activities, and one had fought or trained with Al Qaida in Yemen. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Two police officers stand guard a day after a terrorist attack on a kosher market in Paris, France, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. France’s president chaired an emergency security meeting Saturday aimed at thwarting a repeat of the attacks around Paris by terrorists linked to al-Qaida in Yemen that scarred the nation and left 20 dead at a satirical newspaper, a kosher supermarket and a printing house. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Security officers escort released hostages after they stormed a kosher market to end a hostage situation, Paris, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Explosions and gunshots were heard as police forces stormed a kosher grocery in Paris where a gunman was holding people hostage. Two sets of attackers seized hostages and locked down hundreds of French security forces around the capital on Friday, sending the city into fear and turmoil for a third day in a series of linked attacks that began with the deadly newspaper terror attack that left 12 people dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 10: A woman holds up a placard reading 'Je suis Yohan et je suis mort parceque je suis Juif' (I am Yohan and I'm dead because I'am Jewish) at the site of the attack on a kosher market on January 10, 2015 in Paris, France. Four hostages and three suspects were killed when police ended two separate sieges at a kosher supermarket and a printing company on an industrial estate, following Wednesday's deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by Richard Bord/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 10: Tributes are displayed at the site of the attack on a kosher market on January 10, 2015 in Paris, France. Four hostages and three suspects were killed when police ended two separate sieges at a kosher supermarket and a printing company on an industrial estate, following Wednesday's deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by Richard Bord/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 10: A jewish man prays as people light candles next to floral tributes at the site of the attack on a kosher market on January 10, 2015 in Paris, France. Four hostages and three suspects were killed when police ended two separate sieges at a kosher supermarket and a printing company on an industrial estate, following Wednesday's deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by Richard Bord/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 10: Bullet holes can be seen at the kosher market 'Hyper Cacher', which suffered a terrorist attack yesterday, on January 10, 2015 in Paris, France. Four hostages and three suspects were killed when police ended two separate sieges at a kosher supermarket and a printing company on an industrial estate, following Wednesday's deadly attack on 'Charlie Hebdo' french satirical magazine. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 10: Police officers guard the kosher market 'Hyper Cacher', which suffered a terrorist attack yesterday, on January 10, 2015 in Paris, France. Four hostages and three suspects were killed when police ended two separate sieges at a kosher supermarket and a printing company on an industrial estate, following Wednesday's deadly attack on 'Charlie Hebdo' french satirical magazine. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 10: A man brings flower tributes to the site of the attack on a kosher market on January 10, 2015 in Paris, France. Four hostages and three suspects were killed when police ended two separate sieges at a kosher supermarket and a printing company on an industrial estate, following Wednesday's deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped and is wanted in connection with the murder of a policewoman. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
A forensic police officer works next to the bullet-riddled windows of the Hyper Casher kosher grocery store near Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris on January 9, 2015 after police launched an assault killing the gunman holed up in the market and freeing the hostages. The gunman killed by police after taking hostages at a Jewish supermarket in Paris told BFMTV station he had 'co-ordinated' with the suspected Charlie Hebdo attackers and belonged to the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Forensic police officers work inside the Hyper Casher kosher grocery store near Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris on January 9, 2015 after police launched an assault killing the gunman holed up in the market and freeing the hostages. The gunman killed by police after taking hostages at a Jewish supermarket in Paris told BFMTV station he had 'co-ordinated' with the suspected Charlie Hebdo attackers and belonged to the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Hooded police officers cross the closed ring road that circles Paris near a hostage-taking situation at a kosher market in Paris, Friday Jan.9, 2015. A police official says the man who has taken at least five people hostage in a kosher market in Paris appears linked to the newsroom massacre earlier this week that left 12 people dead. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Hooded police officers walk on the closed ring road that circles Paris near a hostage-taking situation at a kosher market in Paris, Friday Jan.9, 2015. A police official says the man who has taken at least five people hostage in a kosher market in Paris appears linked to the newsroom massacre earlier this week that left 12 people dead. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
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France's broadcast watchdog reprimanded BFM and several other television and radio stations for their coverage of the market hostage-taking and attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January.

BFM and other broadcasters notably revealed in live reports that shoppers were hiding in the kosher market. The watchdog and the families' lawyers say that could have endangered the hostages if the gunman found out.

Lawyer Patrick Klugman, representing the families, said that TV reporters also disrupted the arrival of security forces. He said on Europe-1 radio Friday that the lawsuit isn't seeking financial damages wants media to be held responsible and to take steps to prevent similar situations in the future.

"It's a miracle that there weren't other deaths," he said.

When gunman Amedy Coulibaly stormed the Hypercacher market in eastern Paris on Jan. 9, a worker hid some shoppers in the basement, and Coulibaly was apparently unaware they were there.

The hiding hostages were in touch with loved ones by cell phone. "At one moment, the information got out, and it was absolute panic. For those who were down below and for their loved ones, that could have meant the end," Klugman said.

Coverage of the attacks played out in real-time on social media as well as live broadcasts.

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