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July 02, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, July 02, 2004

City wins access City wins access (July 02, 2004)

Clear Channel ordered to share records on Shoreline revenue

By David Herbert

The city of Mountain View won a legal victory June 22 in its suit against Clear Channel when a judge ruled that financial records turned over by the media conglomerate may be reviewed by a broad range of city officials and can be requested by the public.

The ruling in the Santa Clara County Superior Court put a protective order in place, establishing guidelines for the transfer of proprietary documents regarding the Shoreline Amphitheatre. The popular concert venue has been the center of a year-long legal battle.

Mountain View collects between 4.75 and 6.75 percent of Clear Channel's gross revenue from the venue a year, which totaled nearly $1 million last year. But the city suspects the company is withholding some money. Access to the financial records could reveal how much cash, if any, Mountain View is owed, according to City Attorney Michael Martello.

"We are going to be able to see original documents and see what our percentage should be," he said.

Lawyers for Clear Channel had sought to restrict access to financial records to just the Mountain View legal team, led by Martello. The city attorney, however, successfully convinced a judge that in order to conduct a thorough review of Shoreline Amphitheatre's finances, city council members, auditors and outside legal counsel would need access to the records.

"We are not competitors, so we should have the greatest access to the documents," he said.

Both sides will return to court in October, though the judge encouraged the city and Clear Channel to negotiate in the interim and hopefully resolve the dispute out of court. Dale Head, General Counsel for Clear Channel, is now stepping into the fray, a move that will likely soften the tone of negotiations that have so far been less than cordial, Martello added.

"Now it's between and among lawyers, and lawyers get along for the most part," he said. "He doesn't want World War III."

Clear Channel's counsel could not be reached for comment, but Peter Strauss, one of the company's attorneys, emphasized in a written statement that the media giant is please with the protective order and moreover "fully committed to complying with the law."

E-mail David Herbert at [email protected]

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