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Empire State Realty wins lawsuit against non-profit radio station Pacifica WBAI

Empire State Realty Trust has won its lawsuit against non-profit radio station Pacifica WBAI.

Photo by Teri Tynes/ Flickr
Photo by Teri Tynes/ Flickr

ESRT, which sued Pacifica over unpaid tower rent at the Empire State Building, was awarded a summary judgment of $1.8 million plus attorney’s fees.

Pacifica has accused Empire State Realty of price-gouging. The two sides agreed to a leases renewal in 2005, with monthly fees said to increase at four times the rate of inflation. According to Pacifica, they agreed to the deal because the 9/11 attack destroyed the antennas at the Twin Towers, which gave ESRT a “near monopoly” for antenna space. Over the past 12 years, Pacifica said that antenna rental costs jumped nine percent per year.  The station also said that their current rent of over half a million dollars per year is four times the going rate in Midtown Manhattan.

Pacifica, which owns broadcast licenses in New York, Washington D.C., Houston and California, said that it would be a “challenge” to meet the terms of the ruling. “All stations should continue doing what they are doing – bringing great news, music, and public affairs that the other stations won’t let you hear,” said Bill Crosier, the interim executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation. “There’s going to be some pain involved to come up with the money for the judgment, but we will get through it.”

The Empire State Building is home to TV and radio broadcasters such as Univision, ABC, WPIX and New York Public Radio. Recent broadcast deals in the 1,454-feet tall tower involves iHeart and CBS Radio.

ESRT did not respond to a request for comment.



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