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Lawsuits

Realtor Sues KYW For Defamation, Emotional Distress

kyw_304A Pennsylvania realtor is suing KYW for emotional distress and defamation, claiming the Philadelphia station aired a “preposterous and knowingly false story” about her, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

The realtor, Andrea Straub, and her husband, who she is now separated from, were cited with disorderly conduct and harassment after police found surveillance video allegedly showing the pair throwing dead animals on a neighbor’s property. KYW aired the video in a report on the citation; the charges against Straub were later dropped.

The suit names anchor Chris May, reporter Walt Hunter, news director Susan Schiller and account executive Kim Papay as defendants. Straub says she lost her job and was “effectively run out of town” after the story aired: Read more

Aereo CEO: ‘We Are Confident in the Merits of Our Position’

aereoWith less than two months to go before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the Aereo case, CEO and founder Chet Kanojia talks to TIME’s Sam Gustin. Among other things, Kanojia addresses the broadcasters’ threat that they will pull over-the-air signals and move their most popular programs to cable if Aereo prevails:

I don’t believe that to be a serious threat, just from a business perspective. According to the NAB [National Association of Broadcasters], there are nearly 60 million people who are using over-the-air access. So the networks would have to make a business decision that they are willing to cut off 60 million people.

[...] Most importantly, they would essentially be killing local broadcasting because local broadcasting depends on network television to bring it an audience. So from a business imperative, a business rationale, and their mandate to program in the public interest, they would be running afoul of all of these things, so I don’t find that argument persuasive at all.

It would be inappropriate for me to forecast anything or presume anything, but we think the logic that we have laid out is very compelling, sound logic. We are confident in the merits of our position and we are eager to find out what the Supreme Court thinks.

Utah Judge Grants Broadcasters Preliminary Injunction Against Aereo

aereoThe broadcast networks have been handed a victory in the ongoing legal battle with streaming television service Aereo, according to the Hollywood Reporter:

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that Fox Broadcasting was likely to succeed on the merits of its copyright claim and be irreparably harmed by Aereo. As a result, the judge has granted a preliminary injunction against Aereo’s service that captures over-the-air TV signals and transmits them to subscribers’ digital devices.

The judge also has granted a stay pending the Supreme Court’s decision. The high court is scheduled to hear the case on April 22.

“This is a significant win for both broadcasters and content owners,” says Fox in a statement. “We are very pleased that the U.S. District Court in Utah has granted our request for a preliminary injunction. This injunction will prohibit Aereo from stealing our broadcast signal in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Montana.”

Portland Reporter Suing Sinclair for Failing to Pay Overtime

sinclair_304Attorneys for former KATU investigative reporter Thom Jensen have filed a suit seeking class action status for a federal lawsuit saying Sinclair Broadcasting Group failed to pay overtime to news reporters at its stations in Oregon, reports The Register-Guard.

Jensen, who worked at the Portland ABC affiliate from October 2006 until December 2012, alleges he regularly worked between five to 10 hours of overtime each week without getting paid for it.

The lawsuit would include people who worked at KATU in Portland as well as those who worked at KMTR and KVAL in Eugene. Fisher Communications, which owned the stations before Sinclair announced it was buying the station group in April, is also named in the suit.

Also, the lawsuit claims Jensen has post-traumatic stress disorder and that the Portland station refused to accommodate his disability. The suit alleges Jensen was fired because of that disability and in retaliation for complaining about not receiving overtime pay.

Jensen claims the company created a stressful and difficult working environment that worsened his illness. Read more

Former KDVR Contributor Sues Station, Says He Was Fired Because of Bankruptcy

cd22martinoFormer KDVR contributor Tom Martino is suing the Denver FOX affiliate because he says the station let him go when he filed for bankruptcy in 2011.

Martino, known as “The Troubleshooter,” appeared in regular segments on KDVR as well as a Denver AM radio station.

His lawsuit alleges the station let him go after it learned he was filing for bankruptcy. Martino claims the move violated federal protections.

Martino is no stranger to the headlines lately. He was arrested in December for allegedly punching his wife in the face while the two were waiting a a stoplight.

 The Denver Post reports KDVR said it didn’t renew his contract because ‘it wanted a host with “less personality.’ That Martino filed for bankruptcy had nothing to do with it, according to the case filed in U.S. District Court in Denver.” Read more

Lawsuit Alleges ‘Sexually Hostile Work Environment’ at WOIO

woio logoA lawsuit filed against Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO accuses the station of “creating a sexually hostile work environment and retaliating against an advertisement sales employee who complained about it to station managers,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

The complaint was filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court last week by Kevin Flanigan II. It names WOIO parent company Raycom Media, general manger William Applegate and sales manager Debra Pando, the Plain Dealer reports:

According to the lawsuit, Pando hired Flanigan in 2007, telling him she was “taking a risk” because men didn’t normally perform as well as women. Flanigan said that despite being among the top performers in the department, he was pressured to engage in inappropriate sexual contact with other employees and clients and the use of drugs at corporate events involving clients.

According to the lawsuit, the drug use and sexual favors were common and encouraged to “foster new business relationships.” [...] The lawsuit also alleges Pando often became drunk, acted inappropriately or passed out during or after events. During an “Opening Day” party – the suit doesn’t give a date – [sic] Pando removed some of her clothes and flashed people outside a bar. Read more

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Aereo Case

aereoThe U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the major national broadcast networks’ appeal against Aereo, according to Bloomberg News.

The appeal was filed by ABC, 21st Century Fox, NBC Universal and CBS Corp. The broadcast networks say the streaming television service, which is backed by Barry Diller, violates their copyrights by obtaining and broadcasting their programming without paying fees, “transforming the industry and threatening the very fundamentals of broadcast television.”

“We look forward to presenting our case to the Supreme Court and we have every confidence that the Court will validate and preserve a consumer’s right to access local over-the-air television with an individual antenna, make a personal recording with a DVR, and watch that recording on a device of their choice,” Aereo founder Chet Kanojia said in a statement.

The Supreme Court hears arguments in April and will rule by July, Bloomberg reports.

Aereo CEO and Cablevision Say Aereo Fight May Undermine Cloud Computing

aereo_304In a statement that read like a classic boxing combination, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia today started with the left jab that said his company is prepared to let the Supreme Court decide its legality.

That statement set up the big right cross where he agreed with Cablevision’s assertion that the broadcasters suing him are looking to do more than just stop the Barry Diller backed internet streaming service.

Yesterday Cablevision issued a whitepaper saying, while it agrees Aereo violates copyright law, the broadcasters fighting the service are looking to overturn what the two companies are calling the basic principles of cloud computing, the 2008 Cablevision remote-storage DVR (RS-DVR) decision.

In his statement, Kanojia wrote, “The long-standing landmark Second Circuit decision in Cablevision has served as a crucial underpinning to the cloud computing and cloud storage industry.  The broadcasters’ filing makes clear that they are using Aereo as a proxy to attack Cablevision itself.” Read more

KBTX Statement on Bob French Discrimination Charge: ‘Allegations Are Utterly Without Merit’

bob french kbtxHouston media blogger Mike McGuff gets a statement from KBTX about the discrimination allegations by former chief meteorologist Bob French:

The KBTX family is disappointed to learn from other media outlets that our former colleague and friend Bob French has chosen to file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stemming from his employment here. KBTX and Gray Television respect the privacy of the employment relationship, and accordingly, will not litigate matters related to Mr. French’s employment in the press. KBTX, however, will defend itself vigorously against Mr. French’s allegations and is confident that upon reviewing the record, the EEOC will conclude that Mr. French’s allegations are utterly without merit.

Former Meteorologist Files Age and Disability Discrimination Charge Against KBTX

kbtx logoBob French, a former chief meteorologist at KBTX in Bryan-College Station, has filed a charge of age and disability discrimination against the CBS affiliate and its parent company, Gray Television, with the EEOC and the Texas Workforce Commission.

French worked at KBTX for 23 years. In a statement released by Houston law firm Peckham PLLC, French, who is “over the age of 40,” claims he was overworked during the 2012 holidays while younger employees were granted time off. French says the strain resulted in in-patient treatment for exhaustion and stress in mid-January, causing a three-month absence from the station under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

When he returned to KBTX in April 2013, French’s attorney says the weathercaster was “reprimanded … for matters relating to his disability and FMLA leave,” according to the statement. He was fired in July and replaced “by a weathercaster under 40 years of age.”

A lawsuit is is expected to be filed on the allegations as soon as the EEOC federal investigation of KBTX and Gray Television is complete, according to his attorney. See the statement after the jump. Read more

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