According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a court held that former KMOV-TV news anchor Larry Connors was fired for cause and upheld a non-compete preventing him from working for a competitive television outlet. However, the door was left open for a move to local radio.
KMOV is a CBS affiliate owned by Belo, and destined to become an asset in the portfolio of Gannett.
Connors was fired for Facebook postings in which he claimed to be getting pressure from the Internal Revenue Service that he claimed were tied to a 2012 interview he conducted with President Barack Obama.
There was some question as to whether his age – he is listed as being 67 years old – was a factor in his firing, but Judge Kristine Allen Kerr said there was no evidence that age played any part in the event.
Connors said he was interested in pursuing radio work in St. Louis and had engaged in discussions which ultimately were unproductive since local radio operators had no interest in going up against the KMOV non-compete.
However, Kerr ruled that television is a visual medium and radio an audio medium, and said she was unconvinced that Connors’ presence on the radio dial would cost KMOV any viewers or advertising dollars.
A legal representative of KMOV expressed mild disappointment in the radio portion of the ruling but said overall the station was happy, since preventing the hiring of Connors by a rival television station was its main goal.
RBR-TVBR observation: The judiciary loves a precedent, and you can bet attorneys for broadcasters kept entirely off the air due to a non-compete will be tearing this case apart for useful arguments. It will be interesting to see the ruling it holds up.