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Legal battles hurt Channel 31

LEGAL battles at the centre of the financial difficulties facing community broadcaster Channel 31 continue to rage, with the station in court this week to defend a $22 million claim against it.

During a directions hearing on Tuesday, the Western Australian Supreme Court was told by Media Arts Group managing director Gordon Inglis that crucial evidence in his case against the television station had been destroyed.

Mr Inglis’s claim, which relates to a trotting show his company was to produce about four years ago, is one of two legal actions that the broadcaster has blamed for its decision to go into voluntary administration.

Besides the Media Arts Group action, Channel 31 is also facing a claim for nearly $600,000 from content producer CTV Perth.

The station is still fighting the claims and Channel 31 managing director Andrew Brine told WA Business News that top QC Stephen Pallaras has offered to assist the station on a pro bono basis.

In court on Tuesday Mr Inglis said documents he had obtained from Channel 31 through freedom of information searches showed that evidence connected to his case had been destroyed.

The case is likely to return to the Supreme Court within the next month.

Outside court, Mr Inglis claimed some WA Trotting Association fig-ures had connections to the company that eventually produced a trotting show like he had planned.

WA Trotting Association CEO Rob Bovell and former Channel 31 director Ross McDonald are both associated with a company called CFM Television Pty Ltd, which is linked to production of the Friday Night Live show for Channel 31.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show Mr Bovell is company secretary of CFM Television and Mr McDonald is a director.

Mr McDonald is also a director and shareholder of CFM Productions Pty Ltd, which is a 50 per cent shareholder of CFM Television. WATA owns the other half.

Mr McDonald confirmed he had been on a WATA committee that decided the contract but said he had originally advised it be awarded to Mr Inglis’s company.

“I worked out how much it would cost us to produce the show and their bid was well below ours so I suggested that they should go with them,” Mr McDonald said.

However, he claimed that Mr Inglis was unable to meet production deadlines and WATA asked him to step in. It is understood that CFM Productions took over the contract.

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