Florida stations file lawsuit over nonpayment for underwriting spots

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Florida public broadcasters are suing an on-air sponsorship company for half a million dollars, alleging breach of contract.

FPBS: The Association of Public Media in Florida, a nonprofit group of 26 public radio and television stations, contends that Atlanta-based PCH Communications, under the name Commonground/MGS, owes member stations $508,237 for underwriting spots that PCH secured for Florida Power and Light.

The public broadcasters’ in-house sponsorship department works with various agencies specializing in on-air sponsorship including PCH, the lawsuit says. PCH represents the Florida utility.

When PCH went out of business in December, according to the lawsuit, the broadcasters had to pay for several Florida Power and Light underwriting spots that aired on multiple stations between April and October 2015.

Affected television stations include WGCU in Fort Myers, WJCT in Jacksonville, WLRN in Miami and WFSU in Tallahassee; and among radio stations, WMFE in Orlando, WSMR in Sarasota, WPBI in West Palm Beach and WQCS in Fort Pierce.

FPBS also demands that PCH pay attorneys’ fees in the case.

PCH has not yet responded to the lawsuit. FPBS and its attorney could not be reached for comment.