TUCSON (CN) – A KGUN-9 TV sales manager says he was fired for blowing the whistle on the company’s illegal practice of giving large commercial advertisers better rates than political candidates, overcharging politicians by $1.5 million for political ads in 2006.
Adam Johnston sued Journal Broadcast Group in Pima County Court.
Johnston claims the TV station and affiliated radio outlets failed to disclose ad rate schedules and charged candidates more than favored commercial advertisers during the 2006 political season.
He claims this violated the U.S. Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and FCC regulations by giving commercial customers favorable rates and unfair ad slot pre-emption.
Johnston says that when he was hired in 2007, he tried to rectify the situation by implementing a “one-rate” system, which he calls the industry standard. He says his bosses ordered him to return to a “grid” system, allegedly to make overcharging easier to cover up.
Johnston says that he produced rate grids in compliance with federal law, but KGUN-9 refused to use them. Johnston says he canceled a lucrative contract with a home furnishings retailer when it refused to pay the legal rates, and was fired in May 2008. This allowed the station to return to its practice of overcharging candidates for the 2008 election season, according to the complaint.
Johnston says Journal Broadcast Group defamed him, slashing his income potential. He seeks damages for retaliation and wrongful termination. He is represented by John Munger with Munger Chadwick.