The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

21 April 2007

Imus Lawsuit, Business Week, California Station Sued By CBS


Plus: Network Takes Rogue Imus Affiliate To Court

*** This story has been updated, click here ***

After his ultra- high profile dismissal from MSNBC and CBS, is former talk fossil Don Imus gearing up for a lawsuit? According to a new Business Week report, that might be next on the I- Man's To- Do list.

Before the now- infamous "nappy- headed hos" incident, a fat new Imus contract had just been signed, one that could make Al Franken green with envy. Said to be worth $10 million a year, the deal was shockingly rich for a fading star.

With Imus now off the air, what's next for the 66- year- old ex- talker? In the days after his sacking, some industry experts believed he would be quickly rehired elsewhere. So far, however, there's no sign of a coming return.

Now, according to their report, Imus is reviewing his legal options. Could a lawsuit against CBS be on the list?

From Business Week:

Imus Hires a Legal Heavyweight

The former CBS radio talk-show host has retained a high-powered lawyer. Is a lawsuit pending?

by Jon Fine

Don Imus, the most famous former radio DJ in America, has hired renowned attorney Martin Garbus.

Garbus, a partner in the Manhattan law firm Davis & Gilbert, confirmed to BusinessWeek on Apr. 20 that the deposed radio host has retained his services, but he declined to discuss why. Garbus also declined to discuss whether Imus was plotting any legal action against his former employers at CBS (CBS) and MSNBC (MSFT, GE).

A brief sentence on Garbus' personal blog, late Friday afternoon, noted that Garbus "represents Don Imus in a dispute with CBS"—a sentence that was later removed from the blog.

A ferocious litigator who has received numerous media citations as one of America's leading trial lawyers, Garbus has represented clients as diverse as the comic Lenny Bruce, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Nancy Reagan, and pioneering rap group Public Enemy.

Imus, 66, could not be reached for comment.

A CBS spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter. But Imus recently signed a five-year deal with CBS, which was set to pay him just shy of $10 million annually. The company's abrupt dismissal of its high-profile star also has led to speculation in the press about what his departure will mean to the company.

At the New York Radio Message Board, there is a new discussion about the I- Man's legal moves. See it here.

Meanwhile, it appears CBS wants no trace of Imus to remain on the airwaves. As a result, a rogue affiliate that refuses to stop playing I- Man reruns has been taken to court.

From the AP:

CBS Radio sues defiant radio station for rebroadcasting old Imus shows

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - CBS Radio is suing a small radio station for airing reruns of Don Imus’ program since his firing for sexist and racist comments about the Rutgers University women’s college basketball team.

The lawsuit filed this past week in federal court in Riverside claims KCAA-AM and its license holder violated copyright protections. The suit seeks a temporary restraining order and $150,000 for each violation.

A hearing is set for Tuesday. The station, which had carried the shock jock’s morning show since 2003, started airing recordings of old shows last Monday along with listener calls, mail and e-mails reacting to the controversy.

KCAA attorney Brian Oxman said the station is trying to educate the public.

CBS Radio said it asked the station to stop. The defendants "have made it clear ... that only a judicial decree will prevent them from persisting in their actions," CBS says in court filings.

KCAA chairman Fred Lundgren wrote to CBS attorneys saying the station plans to continue airing the shows through April 27 but would then destroy its Imus materials and tapes.

Is the network's action a bit heavy- handed? Leave a comment below.

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