Edwards denies he's a front for Smiths

October 16, 1993|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Eddie L. Edwards Sr., the Pittsburgh broadcasting executive who wants to run WNUV (Channel 54), responded yesterday to allegations that he is being used as a front by a powerful Baltimore family.

"I am not a front. I am a bona-fide African-American broadcaster," Mr. Edwards said at a press conference. "I will not sell out my people . . . and I resent the notion that I would be a front."

Mr. Edwards was responding to allegations made by Scripps Howard Broadcasting, the owner of WMAR (Channel 2), in documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Scripps Howard wants the FCC to deny the sale of WNUV to a group that includes Mr. Edwards and Carolyn Smith, the 69-year-old matriarch of Baltimore's Smith family.

Mrs. Smith's four sons are the owners of WBFF (Channel 45) in Baltimore, as well as TV stations in Pittsburgh, Birmingham, Milwaukee and Columbus, Ohio.

Scripps Howard claims that the Smith brothers -- David D., J. Duncan, Robert E. and Frederick G. Smith -- will actually be running WNUV through their mother if the license is awarded to jTC Edwards' group -- a violation of the FCC rule that limits broadcasters to owning only one station in any city.

While Mr. Edwards has portrayed himself as the would-be owner, in fact, Mrs. Smith would have 70 percent of the stock and votes in the company that runs WNUV if Edwards' application is approved.

"She's an elderly lady who has 70 percent of the stock," Mr. Edwards said yesterday.

"But I will be president and treasurer. . . . I will be running the station."

Mr. Edwards' group filed its formal response to the Scripps allegations with the FCC yesterday. Their response says that Scripps Howard has failed to prove that the Smith brothers will be running WNUV just because their mother has 70 percent of the voting shares, and that the FCC should award the license without delay.

The commission will have at least 30 days to either approve or deny the sale and transfer of WNUV's license to Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Smith.

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