KRLA sued over content

GLENDALE — A Los Angeles man has filed a lawsuit against a conservative talk radio station — which broadcasts from the city — claiming the station and its media company misrepresented their federal license agreement by serving the interest of the Republican Party rather than the public.

David Birke and his attorney Johnny Birke filed a complaint Aug. 27 against seven talk show hosts of KRLA-AM (870), Salem Communications Corporation and its owner Edward Atsinger III, alleging that they use the public airwaves to push Republican beliefs. David and Johnny Birke would not say whether they were related, citing attorney-client privilege.

KRLA’s broadcast studio is at 701 N. Brand Blvd. in Glendale.

David Birke contends the radio station, its show hosts and the company have defrauded the public by using their radio license to discuss only Republican issues, Johnny Birke said Monday.

David Birke also alleges that they misrepresented their promise to the Federal Communication Commission to serve the “public interest, convenience and necessity.”

The station and its media company serve only “that particular political segment of the public,” Johnny Birke said.

“This a legal attack about the facts and law about what these defendants did and what they are doing on the airwaves,” he said.

Radio hosts Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Miller, Mike Gallagher and Kevin James are named as defendants in the suit.

“My client saw a need to address something that has gone unquestioned for so many years,” Johnny Birke said. “He lost his interest in the public radio airwaves.”

David Birke is a longtime registered Democrat, according to the complaint.

“He’s not doing this for publicity,” Johnny Birke said. “My client’s case can be proven.”

Salem Communications’ attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

According to the complaint, “Salem Entities and Atsinger had no intention of serving the public interest, convenience and necessity. Instead, these defendants always intended to use the public airwaves to serve the interests exclusively of the GOP at the state and national level.”

The radio station, its media company and the company’s Political Action Committee have helped fund the Republican Party by raising money for its party-affiliated candidates and officials, according to the complaint.

“They [the radio station and media company] will try to portray this as an attack on free speech,” Johnny Birke said.

He said the lawsuit doesn’t go after the defendants’ right to speak freely, but questions their use of public airwaves to push the political beliefs of one party and demote another.

The complaint alleges that the radio station has never allowed a Democrat to host a show; uses call screening to “suppress” calls from Democratic supporters; and violates “campaign finance laws by providing free media for advertising, attacks on Democrats, fundraising, and promotion exclusively to GOP officials and candidates.”


 VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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