Two St. Louis television stations are about to get a little cozier, as their parent companies become one. Virginia-based Gannett Company, which owns KSDK (Channel 5) is buying Dallas-based Belo Corporation, which owns KMOV (Channel 4).
If Belo shareholders and the Federal Communications Commission sign off on the $1.5 billion deal, Gannett will grow from 23 stations nationwide, to 43.
Because of the FCC's media ownership limits, KMOV and four other Belo Stations will operate under the independent ownership of Jack Sanders. The Phoenix man is a former Belo executive.
Gannet officials say the news and sales operations at KMOV will stay independent from those at KSDK.
Former KMOV news anchor Larry Conners want's the court to wave the no-compete clause in his contract.
Conners filed suit in St. Louis County Friday against his former TV station, claiming they violated his contract when they fired him last month. The suit was filed in the county because KMOV lists a Clayton business address.
Conners is arguing that it's not fair that he be prohibited for a year from working for a competing station since he was fired without cause.
KMOV management said in a statement that they had dismissed the 66 year old TV veteran last month because comments he had posted on Facebook created "an appearance of bias that is inconsistent with important journalistic standards." Conners had suggested that the IRS was pressuring him following his 2012 interview with President Obama.
Conners has worked in television in the St. Louis market for 37 years, 27 of them with KMOV.
Former KMOV-TV news anchor Larry Conners is asking the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the EEOC to look into his firing. Conners has filed formal discrimination complaints against his bosses at the CBS affiliate.
Conners alleges that he was treated differently after a 2010 complaint about discrepancies in pay between himself and then co-anchor Vickie Newton. Conners says his on-air assignments were reduced and he was offered only a 16 month contract, while less experienced employees were given prime assignments and three year contracts.
Conners says station management also directed him to read an inaccurate statement on air regarding his recent problems with the IRS. His Facebook comments about those problems led to his eventual dismissal from KMOV.
Long-time KMOV reporter and anchor Larry Conners is no longer with the station.
KMOV President Mark Pimentel issued the following statement:
"We regret to announce that Larry Conners is no longer a KMOV news reporter. Larry was a valued member of KMOV for a long time, and we will miss him.
For KMOV, there is no higher cause than unbiased, objective news reporting. It is what our viewers expect and it is what we work very hard to deliver. We can accept no less. Larry is certainly entitled to his opinion, but taking a personal political position on one of the Station’s Facebook pages creates an appearance of bias that is inconsistent with important journalistic standards. Larry’s departure has nothing to do with the particular position he took, but it does have to do with our belief that his actions made it impossible for him to report for KMOV on certain political matters going forward without at least an appearance of bias. Bringing you accurate and unbiased reporting is the reason we exist."
Management with KMOV pulled Conners off the air after he made posted to Facebook that the IRS had started hammering him after a 2012 interview with President Obama aired. He later clarified his post during an on-air statement, saying the his dealings with the IRS occurred years before the interview.
Conners had been with KMOV since 1986.