Wednesday, May 28, 2008, 3:46 PM

Clear Channel Seeks, and Obtains, Injunction Against Tribune Co. Hire of Executive

By Todd
Crain's Chicago Business is reporting that a federal judge has temporarily prohibited a former member of Clear Channel's management team from working on a business venture involving Tribune Co.'s broadcast stations.

Clear Channel claims in its lawsuit that Mr. Friedman had agreed to a non-compete clause that was to last through year-end as part of his employment contract. However, Mr. Friedman claims in a court document that the non-compete obligation was nullified when he rejected his severance package. The injunction issued by the Court is based on threatened misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information grounds.

Andrew Friedman, who recently joined the staff of Kentucky-based Local TV LLC, has taken a 10-day leave of absence to comply with a court order issued late Friday afternoon by U.S. District Court Judge Joan Gottschall in Chicago. Clear Channel of San Antonio, Texas requested the temporary restraining order as part of its federal suit filed May 19 against Tribune, Local TV and Mr. Friedman.

Mr. Friedman recently resigned from Clear Channel and went to work for Local TV as vice-president of a new broadcast management venture that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tribune. Local TV is a private-equity firm created in 2007 to purchase nine television stations.

Judge Gottschall granted Clear Channel's request on the grounds that the company would "undoubtedly suffer irreparable harm if the (temporary restraining order) is denied and (Mr.) Friedman uses the knowledge of interactive content strategies for the benefit of Tribune." Mr. Friedman, she wrote, "will suffer little to no harm, other than being unable to work in his chosen profession for a few weeks."

Mr. Friedman is also temporarily barred from using confidential information he gleaned during his employment at Clear Channel Communications Inc. and from hiring away other Clear Channel employees. He is also to "immediately return" to Clear Channel any documents, data and files as well as portable storage devices used to transfer proprietary information.

Judge Gottschall, however, denied Clear Channel's request for a temporary restraining order against Tribune and Local TV.

"The court made no findings of wrongdoing by either LocalTV or the Tribune, and both will continue to resist Clear Channel's attempts to interfere with their mutual business interests," Tribune said in a statement.

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