Conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage has filed a lawsuit against his syndicator Talk Radio Network, claiming TRN is attempting to force him into “indentured servitude.”
Savage’s contract with TRN expires at the end of the year, and he has
received an offer to move his show to Courtside Radio, which is headed by Norman Pattiz, founder of industry giant Westwood One.
According to court papers, the proposed Savage network would have links to the RightNetwork, an on-demand video service backed by actor Kelsey Grammer and sports and media mogul Ed Snider. Savage’s contract with Pattiz offers him 1 percent of the equity in the fledgling network.
TRN has the right to match an outside offer and has attempted to do so, but Savage asserts in his suit filed Monday that TRN’s proposal falls short of the offer from Courtside Radio. For example, he argues that TRN can’t match the stock equity offer proffered by RightNetwork.
Savage’s suit filed in federal court in the Northern District of California states: “Through the use of illegal and unenforceable contract provisions . . . and other strong-arm tactics designed to intimidate Dr. Savage, TRN is attempting to force Dr. Savage into accepting a sub-standard agreement containing what can only be described as an indentured servitude provision.”
The suit claims the TRN offer falls short financially and contains anticompetitive provisions that limit Savage’s negotiating rights and other terms not in the Courtside proposal.
The lawsuit also maintains that Savage’s show — which currently reaches about 8 million listeners a week — would receive “greater publicity” by moving to Westwood One’s Courtside Radio, and charges that TRN is attempting to “force him into an arbitration that wholly ignores his due process rights.”
Savage seeks a declaration that TRN failed to match Courtside’s offer and that an arbitration provisions in his TRN contract is illegal and unenforceable.
Without a favorable court ruling, Savage’s suit states, he faces the “significant risk of losing the Courtside opportunity, which is valued at several million dollars, and being forced to submit into an illegal arbitration.”
TRN’s President and CEO Mark Masters said: “Michael’s lawsuit against us is unjustified and frivolous” and “we are 100 percent confident that the courts will justify our position.”
Talkers magazine reports that Savage is the third-most listened to radio host in the nation behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and his show is currently aired on more than 300 stations across the nation.
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