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Bills sue?broadcast?firm over?radio fees Buffalo Bills sue broadcasting company over fees

The Buffalo Bills have sued Cumulus Media, seeking to collect at least $1 million in fees the team says the broadcasting company owes for airing football games on the radio during the 2011 season.

While Cumulus Media paid a rights fee to the Bills for the 2011 season, the broadcasting company has yet to pay an "incentive rights fee," according to the lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court.

The incentive rights fee equals half the broadcaster's gross revenues from the sale of related programming or advertising in connection with any Bills game, after accounting for certain costs, according to the lawsuit.

Cumulus Media's 97 Rock and 103.3 the Edge carried Bills games from 1998 through 2011.

The team's dispute with the broadcaster stems from 2011, the final year of a three-year deal for exclusive radio broadcast rights, the team said in its lawsuit.

The lawsuit names Cumulus Media and Citadel Broadcasting Co. as defendants.

Cumulus Media acquired Citadel Broadcasting in 2011, and that purchase included the 2011 radio broadcast rights to Bills games, according to the lawsuit.

Citadel Broadcasting paid what it owed in incentive rights fees for the 2009 and 2010 football seasons, the lawsuit said.

Earlier this year, the Bills announced a multiyear radio deal with Entercom Communications to air Bills games on WGR 550, the all-sports station that also carries Buffalo Sabres games.

Cumulus Media said in January that it was pulling out of the bidding for the Bills' radio rights.

Calls to Cumulus Media's corporate offices in Atlanta and its local office were not returned.

The broadcaster "received substantial monetary benefit" from last season's broadcast rights, according to the lawsuit.

"For the 2011 NFL football season, the reasonable value of the exclusive radio broadcast rights and perquisites was believed to be at least $2.4 million, of which an amount believed to be at least $1 million remains due and owing," according to the lawsuit.

The Bills have not received any portion of the incentive rights fee the team says it is due for 2011, according to the lawsuit.

Also, the team said that it has not received an independent auditor's report on gross revenue and net revenue covering the 2011 season, which the team said the defendants were required to provide, according to the lawsuit.

The team also is seeking attorney's fees, costs and interest.

The team's lawsuit alleges breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

"It is inequitable for defendants to retain the benefit of the exclusive radio broadcast rights and all of the perquisites given to them by [the] Buffalo Bills without paying the fair value of said rights," the team says in the lawsuit.

Michael Schiavone of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, who, with Jeffrey F. Reina, filed the lawsuit for the Bills, declined to comment.

email: plakamp@buffnews.com