TV network sues local former exec over work on side

Country venture's complaint moved here from Florida

When The Country Network hired industry veteran Bill Jones as programming director in the fall of 2010, the TV station — then based in Nashville and run by former Country Music Association boss Tammy Genovese, but now working primarily from Florida — was hoping to make a big push in the country music market.

Instead, the company floundered and had to downsize operations. As they regrouped, executives filed suit in Florida against Jones — a former senior country music manager for Cumulus Media — in September of last year, claiming he had been conducting unauthorized business on the side, work that became detrimental to the company.

The lawsuit was transferred to the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee on Tuesday. According to the complaint, Jones was spending a significant amount of time trying to add a show called Inside Music Row to the network.

“Defendant Jones advocated and insist upon inclusion of Inside Music Row’s programming in Plaintiff’s network programming, contrary to its programming format, which was contrary to and detrimental to programs that Jones was specifically assigned to create,” the lawsuit said.

The company claims it later discovered that Jones was a paid consultant for Inside Music Row, according to his LinkedIn profile. After firing Jones, they reviewed his emails and also found an invoice for a consulting job at a Mississippi radio station.

“Defendant Jones’s focus upon his own profit and objectives severely hampered Plaintiff’s efforts to implement and expand its network, forcing it to operate at a continued loss, lay off staff and restructure the company, limiting its operations in Florida,” the complaint reads.

The lawsuit was filed by TCN pre-emptively, after Jones threatened to sue TCN over money owed to him. A case management conference is set for Dec. 3 in Nashville.