Fox Suing Executive For Jumping Ship on Eve of Sweeps Period

Staff Reporter

Five months into his job as general sales manager of Fox's two Los Angeles television stations, Robert McCauley has quit to head L.A.-based Adlink Cable Advertising LLC, prompting Fox to sue for breach of contract.

Fox's lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 2, comes during May sweeps, a critical time for TV programmers to determine the upcoming season's advertising rates.

"The prospect of irreparable injury to Fox is particularly acute now, with the May 'sweeps' period underway," the suit says. "'Sweeps' weeks are the periods of time to which television programmers look to get advertising rates based on ratings, and McCauley's actions have distracted Fox's management during a critical period." It asks that McCauley stop working for Adlink.

McCauley, who was the first vice president and general sales manager of Fox stations KTTV-TV (Channel 11) and KCOP-TV (Channel 13), left May 3 to be president and general manager of Adlink, a cable advertising buyer.

Neither McCauley nor Sue Tanisawa, Adlink's human resources manager and press contact, returned phone calls. No response to the suit has been filed.

Timothy Lykowski, an attorney for Fox Television, declined to elaborate on the lawsuit other than to say "Some apparently believe that stealing away high level management personnel who are under contract is an acceptable business practice. Fox disagrees."

Fox's suit claims that McCauley's move could threaten sales at Fox, where he was responsible for $300 million in revenue. It said that Adlink, with which it claims it competes for ad dollars, enticed McCauley to breach his contract.

"McCauley has possession and knowledge of confidential proprietary information which is not generally known outside of Fox, including Fox's marketing plans for the sales of advertising, Fox's forecasts regarding advertising sales, Fox's advertising sales strategies and Fox's customer lists," the suit says.

Peter Keir, broadcast supervisor at L.A.-based Round2 Communications LLC, an international media buying firm, said losing its general sales manager during May sweeps should have a minimal impact Fox's advertising sales, which are locked in for the year.

Adlink, which is privately held, generates between $100 million and $150 million in revenue, according to the suit. In contrast, Fox Entertainment Group, the parent of Fox Television, reported $8.5 billion in revenue in 2001.

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