Judge Gerald Lebovits has ruled with a summary judgment in favor of the Empire State Realty Trust in its lawsuit against Pacifica Foundation’s 99.5 WBAI New York for unpaid rent in the amount of $1,819,687.52.
WBAI had sought to continue to pay the $12,000 a month as opposed to the nearly $45-$53,000 per month its lease was for on the argument that they had an oral agreement, but the judge ruled that there was no written agreement to go along with it. In a statement on WBAI.org, Pacifica lawyer Sam Himmelstein stated “This was about as bad a result as we could have expected.”
Pacifica must pay the money due immediately. In an audio clip on WBAI’s page, General Manager Berthold Reimers made the argument that WBAI or any station should not have to pay any money for a tower lease because it is a publicly licensed operation. Pacifica states that it intends to use “Political Pressure” to get the judgment overturned.
WBAI holds a Construction Permit to relocate to 4 Times Square with 10kW/282m, but is contractually bound to the Empire State lease for a few more years.
Original Report 1/30: The ongoing saga of the Pacifica Foundation and its station’s attempts for survival has taken another turn as a lawsuit filed by the Empire State Building over unpaid tower rent by 99.5 WBAI New York has been made public.
The ESB sued Pacifica in November 2016 for the $1,357,429.71 owed in rent and late fees plus interest, costs, disbursements, and attorney’s fees. WBAI’s lease runs contractually through 2020 with the station paying for tower and combiner space, backup antenna/combiner, and a transmitter room on the 81st floor.
WBAI holds a Construction Permit to relocate to 4 Times Square should it be evicted from the Empire State Building that expires in July. But with the Pacifica Foundation struggling survive, a judge’s ruling to force payment could help expedite whatever the group needs to do to raise funds.