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Forward Says Legal Fight over Wevd-am Very Costly

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An unsuccessful 18-month long Orthodox-sponsored legal battle to prevent the sale by the Forward Association of the AM band of its WEVD radio station caused “severe financial distress” to WEVD and “terrible financial damage” to the Jewish Daily Forward, the Forward Association (FA) has asserted.

The association, which publishes the Forward the only Yiddish-language daily in the United States, made those charges as part of a letter and statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency which had reported, in its May 21 Daily News Bulletin, that a Coalition to Save WEVD, comprised of a number of major Orthodox organizations, had abandoned its legal effort to nullify the sale.

The FA said, in the statement, that it had filed its 1979 application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to sell the AM band because “the Forward had been operating the AM station with significant losses in the three years preceding the sale.” The buyer of the AM band is the Salem Media Corp., which is dedicated to Christian evangelical programming, according to the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA). The corporation operates radio stations in other cities.

The FA was initially unable to complete the transaction because the Orthodox coalition filed suit on Aug. 29, 1979 with the FCC, asking that the sale be nullified. COLPA, acting for the coalition, filed the suit and, when the FCC rejected the coalition’s request, filed an appeal with the federal Court of Appeals in Washington.

The coalition announced last May 20 that a recent Supreme Court decision had made the appeal untenable and that the coalition was therefore abandoning its fight to prevent the sale of the AM band.

ORTHODOX COALITION LEGAL CLAIMS DISPUTED

The Forward Association rejected the coalition claim that the transfer of the AM band would severly impair Jewish listener benefits and asserted that “the community has lost none of its Jewish-oriented programming as a result of this transfer” of the AM band.

The FA statement added that “the only thing accomplished by ‘the ‘Coalition to Save WEVD’ was the infliction of severe financial distress on the station as a result of our being forced” during the litigation “to operate a business that was losing money and, worse, the terrible financial damage done” to the Forward.

Declaring that the Forward and WEVD “have served the Jewish community for 84 and 50 years, respectively,” the FA statement added that “we look forward to continuing to provide this service, the damage done by the litigation notwithstanding.”

The statement further asserted that, since last March 2, when the Salem Corp. began operating the AM band, not only was WEVD-FM “carrying every program previously heard on WEVD-AM “but also that “not one Jewish advertiser, including those institutions which were part of the coalition, has either dropped or reduced its advertising budget.”

The FA also declared that the coalition’s argument that “there are areas of Jewish concentration served by the AM signal and not by the FM signal is simply unsupported by the audience reaction and the advertiser response.”

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