The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with Centennial Media, the owner of Lynchburg-based talk radio station WLNI, in its effort to block another talk station from broadcasting from Bedford. Centennial paid about $4.4 million when it bought WLNI-FM from Gary Burns in 2005, according to court filings. Then in 2006, citing a five-year non-compete agreement that was part of the sale, Centennial took Burns to federal court to stop him from operating WBLT-AM as a talk station.
In September 2006, after hearing conflicting testimony about how many categories of talk radio there might be, U.S. District Judge Norman Moon ruled that Burns and 3 Daughters could not operate a station with a talk format until the five-year non-compete agreement ended. Burns appealed to the 4th Circuit, saying the language of the non-compete agreement was ambiguous and unenforceable.
The 4th Circuit judges said the agreement’s ban on Burns’ overseeing a “significantly similar” format at another station was clear enough and upheld Moon’s ruling.
This is a terribly unfair decision!