Imus Negotiates for Return to Radio
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Jock Settles Multimillion Dollar Dispute with CBS
"Don Imus has reached a settlement with CBS over his multimillion-dollar contract and is negotiating with WABC radio to resume his broadcasting career there, according to CBS and a person familiar with the negotiations," Pat Milton reported Tuesday for the Associated Press.
The statement said simply: "Don Imus and CBS Radio have mutually agreed to settle claims that each had against the other regarding the Imus radio program on CBS. The terms of the settlement are confidential and will not be disclosed."
"The settlement pre-empts the dismissed radio personality's threatened $120 million breach-of-contract lawsuit," Milton's story continued.
"CBS confirmed only that the settlement had been reached. The person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press that Imus is taking steps to make a comeback with WABC. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details had not been announced, also said the deal with CBS calls for a 'non-disparaging' agreement that forbids the parties from speaking negatively about each other.
"Just before his dismissal, Imus signed a five-year, $40 million contract with CBS Radio (owned by CBS Corp.). Famed First Amendment lawyer Martin Garbus said in May that Imus planned to sue CBS for $120 million in unpaid salary and damages.
"WFAN, the New York radio station that was Imus' flagship, also announced Tuesday that former pro quarterback Boomer Esiason will take over the morning time slot along with Craig Carton, a New Jersey radio personality.
"WABC is a New York talk-radio station that features political and topical shows with such stars Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh."
Steve Borneman, president and general manager of WABC Radio, was not available Tuesday afternoon and was the only one authorized to answer questions, his office said.
The National Association of Black Journalists, which led an effort to remove Imus from the air after he called the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy headed ho's," went on record last month opposing Imus' return to the airwaves.
"NABJ and America applauded in April the decision of national broadcasters to remove his language from the national airwaves. We would hope that, just a few months later, they would not substitute a desire to cash in for the need to stand by their convictions," then-NABJ President Bryan Monroe told Journal-isms in July.
Barbara Ciara, elected on Friday as NABJ president, told Journal-isms on Tuesday, "I agree. The broadcast world would be a better place without the voice of Imus. I'd be interested in knowing, if Imus has another forum, how he's going to reassure viewers or listeners that he's not the same Imus that he was before."
However, the Rev. Al Sharpton had earlier told another interviewer, "My position is that we never called for him to be permanently barred from being on the air. . . We never said we didn't want him to make a living."
At the NABJ convention last week in Las Vegas, NBC News President Steve Capus said of Imus, "Whether he deserves another shot on somebody else's airwaves, someone else will decide. I'm not going to bring him back to MSNBC."
Les Payne, a columnist at Newsday and a founder of NABJ, applauded NABJ's actions during the Imus affair and said they were consistent with the reasons the organization was founded.
This exchange about Imus took place on Sunday on CNN's "Reliable Sources" media show between Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune columnist, and Brooke Gladstone of National Public Radio:
"PAGE: I don't mind him coming back . . . I think for now he's gotten his lesson. And deserves to have a shot at going back on the air again.
"GLADSTONE: Well, you have to let Imus be Imus if you want him to rake in the kind of money that he's been raking in all of this time. I mean ultimately he was punted because they were following the money and he was losing advertisers. And he was losing advertisers partly because his elite intellectual friends in Washington and New York circles were beginning to feel embarrassed by their association with him.
"If that time has passed and if you want to start making money again, you have to let Imus be Imus again. But that doesn't mean he can't be more careful when it comes to racial jokes, as he put it."
- Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Sharpton Tosses The Olive Branch to Imus
Colleen Long, Associated Press: Rutgers Player Sues Imus, CBS Radio
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