As The 19/Browns Saga Turns

Today, it’s Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO/19’s turn in the ongoing saga over the Cleveland Browns’ desire to dump the station as its local TV rightsholder. But instead of station general manager Bill Applegate making the case, it’s lawyer Jack Kluznik…a member of the firm representing WOIO in its legal dispute with the local NFL team.

Kluznik tells Cleveland Plain Dealer sports/media columnist Roger Brown that the station and team have a “legal, binding contract”…saying the local Raycom Media outlet has held up its end of the legal bargain, and “expects the Browns to do the same”.

Brown characterizes WOIO’s legal team as being prepared for a “long legal battle”, and that could be vital here.

The legal system rarely moves with swiftness. And the first pre-season game is less than a month away. Unless the team gets an immediate court injunction or something, it appears somewhat likely that at very least the first pre-season game or two, if not more, will actually air on Channel 19. And of course, when the regular season starts, the local CBS affiliate will already be airing the games via the network.

Browns owner Randy Lerner seems already resigned to that possibility, noting in yesterday’s Plain Dealer article that the pre-season games will air on television – even if he basically has to hold his nose and accept WOIO continuing as the team partner in the short term.

But Lerner still appears to be miffed, if we’re reading his public comments correctly. We’re a bit biased here at OMW – particularly over WOIO/WUAB general manager Bill Applegate’s reported effort to contact Lerner’s mother, the widow of late owner Al Lerner and grandmother of the young victim here.

The saying could be “hell hath no fury like a grandmother wronged”. We’re guessing from our own family experience that if Norma Lerner is upset by what “19 Action News” did to her family, she’d go to the ends of the earth to sever ties with the station…so trying to go to her to beg to keep the Browns TV rights may not have been a good move for Applegate. He’s better off keeping quiet, and hoping the legal system upholds his station’s contract.

But OMW finds it hard to believe that Lerner would actually make this move without at least running it past the team’s lawyers. And we find it hard to believe he’d waste Browns lawyers’ time and the team’s money to pursue this, if he wasn’t informed he had a reasonable shot of escaping the contract…

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