A St. Louis Judge has given the OK for fired KMOV anchor and giant ego Larry Conners to find work in St. Louis radio but not television.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that Circuit Judge Kristine Allen Kerr stripped the word “radio” from a no-compete clause in Conners’ contract with KMOV (Channel 4) but preserved the rest, which bars him from working for another television station in the St. Louis market for one year after his firing from KMOV.
“KMOV-TV has not articulated, and the court cannot conceive of, any situation whereby their television news program competes with local radio programs,” Kerr wrote. “Television is visual; radio is auditory.”
Kerr said she was not convinced KMOV would risk losing viewers or ratings from radio competition.
However, Kerr said KMOV’s “interests in protecting its television viewer base, ratings and advertising revenue are legitimate.”
The judge also found KMOV had the right to fire Conners “for cause” and did not breach Conners’ contract. The judge also said she found no evidence KMOV fired Conners because of his age.
Conners, 67, was fired May 23 after he posted comments to a Facebook page 10 days earlier implying the Internal Revenue Service was pressuring him after a 2012 interview with President Barack Obama. The Post-Dispatch reported Conners was the subject of an IRS lien for back taxes before the Obama interview.
Conners said Friday that he was pleased to be able to negotiate with local radio stations.
“It’s perfectly clear that I’m fine to do radio,” said Conners, who said previously that he talked with officials from several radio local radio stations after being fired. He said he did not discuss specific terms with radio stations because the non-compete clause dampened radio stations’ interest.
“Those stations didn’t want to get involved in a lawsuit” over violating Conners’ contract, he said.
Of Kerr’s sustaining the TV non-compete clause, Conners said, “it was kind of like splitting the baby, trying to make both sides happy.”
Conners said he would soon file a motion asking Kerr to amend her ruling to allow him to work on-air at local television stations. “We don’t think you can just do part of it,” he said.
David H. Luce, a lawyer for KMOV, said he was pleased with Kerr’s ruling overall, and that the television portion of the non-compete cause was “really our main thrust.” He said he disagrees with Kerr’s decision to let him work in radio but respects her decision.
“Our view is that it’s time to move on,” Luce said. “We feel like the court really vindicated our position.”