Monday, September 26, 2022

Report: Past Business Dealings of GBS CEO Questioned

NAB is augmenting its argument against the implementation of FM geo-targeting technology with new assertions about GeoBroadcast Solutions founder and CEO Chris Devine, according to RadioWorld.

In a new new ex parte filing late last week, the association raises what it calls “serious concerns with the GBS proposal’s merits in the context of credible and public accusations regarding questionable business dealings” of Devine.

GBS responded to the criticism calling it “NAB’s tabloid filing” and “a desperate attempt at character assassination.”

“NAB believes that Mr. Devine’s track record requires the commission to examine the underlying information carefully and reject his petition,” the association wrote to the FCC.

GBS has been lobbying the FCC for a rule change to allow for its FM booster technology, which is marketed under the name ZoneCasting, to be implemented by broadcasters, allowing them to voluntarily geo-target some of their broadcast content for short periods of time.

Up until now, NAB has argued that the geo-targeting technology would “inevitably damage radio technical integrity and serve as a lever for advertisers to force radio broadcasters to reduce their advertising rates,” but the new filing brings a shift in NAB’s focus.

NAB details a wide array of what it calls “publicly available information detailing some of the instances where Devine has been credibly accused of fraudulent and deceitful conduct.”

For instance: “In 2009, Mr. Devine was sued by Robert Allen, III, who alleged that Mr. Devine had defrauded Mr. Allen of roughly $70 million. According to Mr. Allen’s family, Mr. Devine befriended Mr. Allen, who over time became elderly and infirm, and convinced Mr. Allen to invest tens of millions of dollars in Superior Broadcasting Company, Inc. (Superior), a company ostensibly created to buy and operate radio stations.

“According to the lawsuit, unbeknownst to Mr. Allen, and despite his $70 million investment in Superior, Mr. Devine did not purchase a single station for the company. Instead, over the course of years, Mr. Devine and his accomplices allegedly siphoned millions of dollars directly to themselves and to fund investments with no benefit to Mr. Allen. As part of this scheme, Mr. Devine allegedly falsified financial statements to deceive Mr. Allen,” NAB commented.

NAB goes on to detail other instances of what it calls questionable behavior by Devine, including his former ownership of Devine Racing, a company that specialized in marathon races.

➤GBS reply

Radio World invited GBS to respond to NAB’s claims: “In a desperate attempt at character assassination, the NAB’s tabloid filing omits one critical but publicly known fact: the lawsuit that gave rise to all of these allegations that the NAB launders before the FCC was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff with prejudice. Frivolous lawsuits and accusations happen in business, and the NAB’s members know this.

“Knowing its technical arguments are going nowhere, NAB has resorted to character assassination to shield the largest radio stations from competition by minority-owned and small broadcasters. The question before the FCC is whether the technology can be deployed consistent with the FCC’s rules and the record overwhelmingly shows it does,” GBS wrote in a statement emailed to Radio World.

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