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CBS' compression use may come out in suit

A lawsuit in Miami could shed some light on the degree to which the CBS station group used a time-compression machine to increase commercial inventory.

Former station executive William Ballard said he lost his job after
complaining about the practice, which, he added, was widely used and encouraged
by the company.

CBS has acknowledged that the practice had been used at KDKA-TV Pittsburgh --
where it was discovered by a local newspaper -- but informed sources have told
Broadcasting & Cable it went on at other CBS-owned stations with the
knowledge of ranking executives.

The charge has angered competitors, affiliates -- which complained about a
double standard for owned and affiliated stations -- and advertisers, which said
the value of their spots has been reduced.

CBS said Ballard -- who was passed over for the top spot at CBS' WFOR-TV
Miami -- has not alleged that it has done anything illegal, and it seeks
dismissal of Ballard's complaint.

'The plaintiff's allegations,' CBS said, 'which were dealt with extensively
in the media last year, are utterly without merit. We are defending this case
vigorously and expect to prevail.'