Former KTLA Technology Reporter Kurt Knutsson is suing the station and its parent company Tribune for breach of contract, misappropriation of his name and likeness, unfair competition and age discrimination.
Knutsson, known professionally as Kurt the CyberGuy, says he signed a five-year deal with KTLA in 2008, but in December 2010, Knutsson says his contract was suddenly terminated. He says two KTLA executives told him they would renegotiate but he would be paid less.
That didn't quite go as planned.
Instead, in February 2011, he got a phone call from KTLA news director Jason Ball and a Tribune human resources person who told him he would no longer appear on the station at all, and that they would notify the other stations that his relationship with them had come to an end.
Despite being let go, Knutsson says his name and image continued for some time on the TV station’s websites, but when a viewer clicked on the link, they were shown consumer technology reports by Rich DeMuro instead, that were broadcast from the same studio as CyberGuy, with the same format and style
KTLA and the other stations never announced his departure to viewers. He says they also “manipulated content descriptions (keywords and metatags) in order to produce misleading results from common search engines so persons seeking Knutsson were routed to (DeMuro).”
“KTLA derived millions of dollars in net revenue from new business in respect of CyberGuy broadcast programming,” says the suit, “but KTLA failed and refused and continues to refuse to pay (Knutsson)” the 20 percent of those revenues he should receive.