HARRISBURG, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. (“Nexstar”) today responded to the inaccurate statements made by former WHTM employee Flora Posteraro and through her legal counsel, Charles Curley of Curley & Rothman, regarding Ms. Posteraro’s separation from the station.
While it is Nexstar’s policy not to comment publicly regarding personnel matters, the ongoing public promotion of inaccurate and misleading statements included in Ms. Posteraro’s social media posts and the complaint filed by Mr. Curley on behalf of Ms. Posteraro with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission warrant a response to ensure that viewers, advertisers, legislators, regulators, the investment community and the public at-large receive accurate facts regarding what was a straightforward employment contract renewal process. Nexstar intends to pursue any and all legal remedies for damage caused by Ms. Posteraro and her advisors through their destructive public mischaracterizations. Additionally, Nexstar requests that Ms. Posteraro and her advisors cease and desist from making any such future mischaracterizations. The Company will be prepared for any proceedings regarding this matter so that impartial parties can affirm that the Company acted properly at all times in its approach and actions.
Over the course of the past 22 years, Nexstar has built an impeccable reputation in the markets that it serves across the country based on its commitment to localism and extending its legacy of local news leadership by delivering the most compelling and informative local reporting that touches the daily lives of viewers. Prior to Nexstar’s acquisition of WHTM in early 2017, the station had three different owners over a five-year period.
As a standard practice, it is incumbent upon a new operator to evaluate the programming performance metrics of an acquired station. After taking ownership of WHTM, Nexstar engaged in a comprehensive and holistic analysis of the station, its programming, and the on-air talent with the goal of improving WHTM’s local content and viewer engagement.
In addition to the standard evaluation of current locally-produced programming, the Company has made, or is in the process of making, changes and additions to provide new programming and enhanced service to the local WHTM viewing communities including:
- Increased local programming with the launch of “This Week in PA,” a weekly political affairs show with plans also underway to expand the locally produced weekday lifestyle show “Good Day PA” to one full hour;
- Established a Pennsylvania Capitol Bureau to connect local viewers across the state with their elected officials, and to better serve voters across the entire ten county region. In addition, plans are underway to reopen news bureaus in Lancaster and York counties that were previously closed by WHTM’s former owners; and,
- Committed capital investment of over $3.0 million dollars to upgrade the main station facility located in Harrisburg, which is on schedule to be completed this fall. Improvements include, but are not limited to, building out a new high-definition news set and newsroom with state of the art equipment designed to enhance viewer experience and engagement.
As part of the ongoing process to revive the strength of WHTM’s local programming and community service, local management, with corporate support, made a business decision to assign several on-air personalities to new broadcasts. These decisions were based on factors such as historical performance ratings, market research and general broadcast business knowledge. This is a proven approach which Nexstar has successfully deployed in its markets across the country.
While the reassignments were generally received well, it was clear that the decision was not embraced in the same manner by Ms. Posteraro. As such, Ms. Posteraro made the unilateral decision to resign from her position rather than accept a contract that included the same terms and conditions as her most recent employment agreement. Shortly after her resignation, Mr. Curley filed a charge with the PHRC alleging that Nexstar retaliated against Ms. Posteraro for participating in an August 2017 HR investigation into alleged gender discrimination at the station. These allegations are not only preposterous but totally contrary to the true reasons for her proposed broadcast reassignment.
Senior Vice President and Regional Manager (with oversight of the Nexstar Harrisburg operations) Theresa Underwood commented, “At Nexstar, we take all employee complaints and concerns very seriously and have longstanding policies against discrimination and all forms of harassment. In a company with over 9,000 employees, we have comprehensive policies and procedures detailed in our employee guidebook and our Company’s Code of Business Conduct that are structured to ensure all employees have open communications with Human Resources, so they can report any workplace issues or concerns and be ensured of a prompt and thorough investigation of any claims.
“In August 2017, we received an anonymous complaint of alleged gender discrimination by station management. After a thorough investigation was conducted, we concluded that the evidence did not support such allegations. Ms. Posteraro and many other members of the WHTM staff provided information as witnesses during that investigation. Some five months later, Ms. Posteraro was offered a new employment contract and salary consistent with the terms and conditions of her prior agreement. Ms. Posteraro’s role as news anchor was to continue; however, she declined the offer, thus ending her employment.
“To be perfectly clear, there have been no complaints made or filed regarding sexual harassment or sexual misconduct against anyone at WHTM during Nexstar’s ownership of the station. It is troubling that Ms. Posteraro has sought to attempt to align her complaint to the very serious issue of sexual harassment in the workplace through innuendo on social media and elsewhere. Furthermore, neither I nor any of my colleagues involved in the staffing assignments and employee-related decisions at WHTM would ever tolerate, defend or accept discrimination of any kind.”
Ms. Underwood concluded, “To reiterate, Ms. Posteraro’s employment was not terminated involuntarily. Up until her last day with us, we hoped she would accept our offer to remain at WHTM. She was a valued member of the news team and we wanted her to stay. We are disappointed that she rejected the contract renewal offer. But the station and the Company are even more disappointed that she has chosen to mischaracterize this as a situation of discrimination, which is patently false.”
While Ms. Posteraro is attempting to try this case in the court of public opinion, we prefer to do so within the appropriate legal channels and will continue to respect due process. As such, additional details will be disclosed in appropriate judicial hearings regarding this matter, and the Company does not intend to provide any further statements regarding the matter until there is a hearing.