Citing non-payment for services provided its subsidiary Sheridan Broadcasting Network dating back several months, and the resulting inability to pay rent, Sheridan Broadcasting Company has locked the third floor offices of its former partner American Urban Radio Network.
A memo sent to employees Sept. 14, read: “Accordingly, effective at 9 p.m. this evening, all access to the 3rd floor is terminated. The termination will remain effective until further notice.”
Ron Davenport Jr., special counsel and president of SBC’s radio division, said AURN has not been paying for news and entertainment services SBN provides since April. He said the actions were the result of indifference by the $250 billion hedge fund Guggenheim Capital that owns AURN’s parent company Access 1 Communications.
“So now were’ dealing with this goliath that doesn’t care about jobs, news, sports, services or people. They just care about money,” he said. “And we are suffering because they don’t want to do anything other than put us out of business.”
Davenport put the accumulated debt at roughly $1 million.
Jerry Lopes, AURN president for programming operations and affiliations, said while Davenport’s description of the lockout is accurate, explanation for it is not.
“This has nothing to do with Guggenheim,” he said. “We reimburse Sheridan for services monthly—the money never made it to the intended parties. We learned a few months back that we owed a year’s worth of health and welfare payments to the unions. They (Sheridan) invoiced us—we paid them—but the money never made it to the parties they said they were paying.”
One of those parties, Lopes said, is the landlord, who hasn’t been paid since February. And it is not just AURN employees who are locked out, he said.
“SBC employees were shut out too; the news people, the gospel network—and they employ them,” he said. “They are jeopardizing our future, because we aren’t delivering services to our affiliates, and they’ve impacted their own people—it’s mind boggling.”
Lopes said this all stems from a protracted legal battle that, in May, cost Davenport and his father Ron Davenport Sr. majority control of AURN. The untangling of assets accumulated since the Davenport Sr. founded Sheridan in 1971 is an ongoing, convoluted process.
Of this latest impasse, Lopes said he expects a rapid solution, because as Davenport Jr. acknowledged, AURN is the only entity buying SBC services.
“We’re in transition and there are bumps along the road,” said Lopes. “This is one of them It’s a significant one, but it’s nothing we won’t overcome. It’s just unfortunate because this move doesn’t resolve anything—they have no revenue stream. I’m it.”
(More in Wednesday’s print edition.)