Michael Savage Sues Talk Radio Network Over 'Indentured Servitude'

Categories: Law & Order, Media
Michael Savage is an angry man.
Conservative talk radio host Michael Savage is trying to dump Talk Radio Network, but claims in a federal lawsuit that the radio syndicate is not taking to the split nicely, threatening him with a $4 million lawsuit for breaking his contract. Meanwhile, Talk Radio Network is claiming The Michael Savage Show isn't going anywhere.

Savage -- who once suggested that the hunger-striking DREAM Act students starve to death -- has waged war against TRN with typical Savage flair. In the lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco Monday, Savage alleges that TRN is trying to force him into accepting a contract that forces him into "indentured servitude."

Those are some fighting words for 2010, but that's what Savage does. Otherwise TRN wouldn't want him so bad.  

According to the lawsuit, TRN's syndication of The Michael Savage Show expires at the end of this month. The suit states that Savage has gotten a better offer from Courtside, LLC, for syndication through Westwood One radio network for 2011 and 2012. The offer included promotion of Savage's show through Westwood's broadcast fare such as NFL football, NCAA basketball, CNN News, NBC News, and CBS News. Also Savage's show would be overseen by Norman Pattiz -- a member of the University of California Board of Regents and radio industry giant -- who, the suit claims, could get "prominent guests on Dr. Savage's show from such fields as politics and science..."

But Talk Radio Network isn't going to let their hot-headed radio star go so easily: Savage, a 68-year-old Marin County resident, alleges that his current agreement with TRN has "illegal and unenforceable" provisions to force him into accepting a new deal with the network.

Among those contract provisions is a "right to match" clause that states Savage must give TRN written notice of his intent to contract with another entity in the radio broadcast industry. TRN "shall then have the right to accept ... such contract terms, and in so doing, establish a new contract between" Savage and TRN. As the lawsuit notes: "TRN can perpetually renew Dr. Savage's employment ad infinitum, thus completely restricting Dr. Savage's ability to move as an employee..."

Basically, Savage says he's stuck and he can't get out. But he sure wants to. TRN presented Savage with its matched agreement for the Westwood One deal on Dec. 3, which Savage rejected as being an inferior agreement. Things have since gotten even more heated: TRN told Savage he must sign its dotted line or be sued for its claimed losses in excesses of $4 million.

What's so bad about the TRN agreement? Savage's lawsuit claims it means less money and publicity for the radio host. It also keeps the "right to match" agreement that got them all into this mess in the first place. It also "proposes that Dr. Savage work closely with [TRN's CEO] Mark Masters, a man who repeatedly threatens and harasses Dr. Savage." Heh. Sounds like Christmas with the family.

Apparently, Masters isn't intending to allow Savage to go anywhere. In a statement on TRN's website today, he states: "Michael's lawsuit against us is unjustified and frivolous. Michael's contract is crystal clear, and we are 100% confident that the courts will justify our position. The Michael Savage Show will remain on the air." The statement noted that TRN will be holding Savage to his contract. And you thought your boss was controlling.  

Meanwhile, Savage's suit asks the court to declare that TRN has failed to match the Courtside offer and that TRN's agreement can't be enforced since it allows the contract to be renewed forever.

All in all, it brings a new meaning to the term "radio drama."

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