ABC Gets Inside an Apple Factory

ABC's "Nightline" will scoop all other media tomorrow night (Tuesday), with a visit to a Foxconn factory in China where your favorite iToys are made.

Foxconn actually assembles 40 percent of the world's consumer electronics - including XBox 360 game systems, HP and Dell computers, and varied products for the likes of Samsung and Sony. But over the past two years, a spate of employee suicides,  strike threats and reports of the operation's oppressive/dangerous working conditions have mostly connected Foxconn to Apple, their most demanding of customers, especially around the time of a new product launch.

The timing of this report - and choice for ABC to tell it - are curious. 

Steve Jobs was the largest shareholder in ABC's parent company Walt Disney, since his sale to Disney of Pixar.  Apple and ABC have long enjoyed a special working relationship (the first TV shows to appear in the iTunes store came from ABC/Disney.) So if any media could be guaranteed  to do a "fair and balanced" (i.e. non-hatchet job) piece on the Foxconn-Apple connection, it'd be these guys.

Unlike, say, National Public Radio, which last year served up  devastating reports on a chemical-belching Apple parts factory in China where workers (and the community)  were suffering serious health problems. 

For sure, damage control is definitely on Apple's mind right now,  with the (Foxconn-assembled) iPad 3 set to be sprung next week (March 7).

Also telling - just this weekend, Foxconn announced it will raise wages for employees 16- 25 percent - their second boost in two years - to 1800-2,500 yuan ($287-$396) a month.  The company also plans to finally automate some of the most frenetic of assembly chores with robots - an aspect I'm hoping ABC will get into, though I doubt it.

 Preview shots of the network's factory tour showcase how well scrubbed and brightly lit the facility and its employees are  - though, in truth, production of high tech gadgets always requires a "clean room" environment.

The "Nightline" report airs Tuesday at  11:30 p.m . on WPVI-TV 6.