Christian Network Sued Over Station Purchase

Courthouse News Service/September 28, 2016

By Rose Bouboushian

Chicago — Two permit applicants sued the world's largest Christian TV network for over $1 million, claiming it wrongfully acquired a TV station in Illinois at their expense.

Texas-based Galesburg 67 and Illinois-based DM Partners say they each applied for a Federal Communications Commission construction permit for a TV station in Galesburg, Illinois.    

But they later withdrew their applications after settling with non-party Northwest Television Inc. in 2000. Northwest paid Galesburg 67 $675,000 and DM $400,000 so Northwest could become the prevailing applicant, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Chicago federal court.   

But "the consideration under the [conditional settlement agreement, or CSA] was never paid to either G67 or DM," the lawsuit states. The plaintiffs claim "the purported award of the station to Northwest by the FCC is voidable at the option of G67 and DM."    

Over a decade after it contracted with them, Northwest sold the station to Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana Inc., part of the international Christian-based Trinity Broadcasting Network, with the consent of the FCC.    

"Northwest, by and through the CSA, represented to the FCC that the consideration thereunder owed to G76 and DM was paid," the lawsuit states, claiming the false representation is an unfulfilled condition of the FCC's consent to the sale.    

Because the settlement agreement between Northwest and the plaintiffs is public record, "Trinity knew, or, in the exercise of minimally reasonable care and diligence, should have known, of the failure of the condition," according to the complaint.    

Galesburg 67 and DM Partners sued Trinity, claiming its conduct is "materially adverse" to their interests.    

Trinity paid $1.12 million for the station in October 2012, the lawsuit states.    

"The station is currently the subject of an ongoing FCC reverse auction which may result in the transfer of the station from Trinity," according to the complaint.    

The three-count complaint asks the court to rescind the Northwest settlement agreement and reinstate Galesburg 67 and DM Partners as competing applicants. In the alternative, they seek more than $1 million in restitution.    

Trinity did not return a request for comment Tuesday.    

Galesburg 67 and DM Partners are represented by Timothy Harrington with Moore Penna & Associates in Sterling Heights, Michigan.   

Trinity has been involved in controversial litigation over the years.    

Its former CFO sued last year, claiming top bosses threatened her with a gun after she objected to their "unlawful distributions" of $100 million to themselves and other directors.

In addition, the granddaughter of Trinity founder Paul Crouch Sr. claimed in a 2012 lawsuit that she was drugged and raped by an employee of the Christian broadcaster, and that the network hushed it up to avoid bad publicity.

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