A CBS executive received a $1 million annual membership to Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton when the television company purchased WLNY-TV from the club’s owner a decade ago in a transaction that has raised ethical concerns, according to a Los Angeles Times exposé.
CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn, a Long Island resident, treated the membership as a personal perk, the former manager of CBS’ TV station in Philadelphia alleged in a Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission complaint, the newspaper reported, citing two unnamed sources who were aware of the deal. Sebonack declined to comment and CBS did not respond to requests for comment.
“While listed in one executive’s name, this is a CBS membership used to host clients and business partners,” CBS told the Times. “Annual dues are paid by CBS and any personal expenses incurred by executives are paid from their own pocket.”
The deal reportedly violates CBS’ rules against accepting gifts. Dunn was placed on leave last week following another Times report that the broadcast company stifled an internal investigation into alleged racist and sexist comments Dunn made.
Jaci Clement, CEO and executive director of the Bethpage-based media watchdog nonprofit Fair Media Council, said the deal raises ethical questions.
“The coverage of this leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions, but the short answer is this, if people need to ask, ‘Is that ethical?’ The answer is ‘no,’” said Clement.