FIRST OFF . . .
Two former Tampa, Fla., TV news managers have been charged with illegally tapping into phone lines and computers at another station to gain a news edge over their competitors. Former news director Terry Cole and assistant news director Michael Shapiro at WTSP-TV have been charged with 17 counts of computer hacking and conspiracy in the theft of information from WTVT-TV through computer phone lines, authorities said. Their arraignment is set for May 19. If convicted, each could face a maximum prison sentence of 85 years. The two were fired from WTSP when the station learned of the alleged thefts. The break-ins began in November but were not noticed until Jan. 12, when WTVT’s morning news producer noticed that files were missing, authorities said. Computer experts determined that an intruder had rifled the files. Authorities said Shapiro knew WTVT’s security system thoroughly because he had helped set it up while working there as an assignment manager before being hired away from WTVT in October.