Frontline and ProPublica team up for cell tower death story

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Today, Frontline and nonprofit investigative newsroom ProPublica released their long-awaited collaboration on the issue of poor accountability and safety among cellphone carriers and the subcontractors they hire to maintain and build the nation’s over 280,000 cell tower sites.

The investigation found that 50 cell tower climbers have died between 2003 and 2011. The ProPublica article details how lackluster safety regulations, the overbearing push for cell tower expansion, and a culture of recklessness have caused this boom in accidental fatalities. In addition, the investigation found that many cell phone carriers deliberately hide behind layers of subcontractors, thereby recusing themselves from most liability and preventing easy linkage between cell carriers and the deaths.

The Frontline version of the story will air at 10 p.m. Eastern tonight on most local PBS stations.

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