Months after a sex scandal shook Bedford's Daystar Television Network, the broadcaster is downsizing three of its production facilities, including one in Texas.
The move is intended to make better use of the capabilities of its headquarters, spokesman A. Larry Ross said.
The affected studios, in Houston, Denver and Ashland, Ky., will function as transmitter sites operated by a limited technical staff. The downsizing affects production personnel at these facilities, Ross said.
"This was a business and programming decision to achieve operational parity among Daystar's 114 television stations and to better utilize the expanded capabilities of the network's Bedford headquarters," Ross said.
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Despite a few rocky months for the network, Daystar's finances seem relatively unaffected, according to information from the ministry. This year's donations are down 7 percent compared with the same period in 2010 but up 5 percent over 2009, the ministry said. The network did not release specific dollar amounts. Ross said the network's viewer base has grown at a "rapid pace."
On Monday, the general manager of Daystar's Kentucky station referred comment to other officials.
Joan Hunter of Joan Hunter Ministries in Pinehurst, outside Houston, was a guest Monday on the version of Daystar's Celebration program produced in Houston. She said local versions of the program in Houston, Denver and Kentucky would probably run about two more weeks. Ross said he knew of no plans to curtail the Celebration program hosted by Marcus and Joni Lamb.
Hunter said she hopes the network doesn't suffer as "you've seen it happen in PTL," referring to the scandals that felled Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's televangelism empire.
Hunter said the Lambs are making changes to take advantage of the network's finances because there's "a lot of duplication in a lot of the different stations around the world."
"I would hate for that network to be destroyed as a result of this. ... It has done a lot of good. I'm really, really sorry that it happened," she said.
Suit and countersuit
Daystar and the Lambs, who have sought marriage counseling, are embroiled in a lawsuit and countersuit with three women who are former employees but had no other relationship with Marcus Lamb.
A suit filed against Daystar and Marcus Lamb in a Texas court accuses him of having a long affair with a former network executive. Plaintiff Jeanette Hawkins, a former director of marketing at the network, claims that she suffered extreme mental distress because she was hired to work in a Christian work environment. She also claims that she was told to cover up Lamb's affair. The suit says Lamb defamed her by claiming in a broadcast that he was being extorted over the affair. Although he did not name her, the suit says that many Daystar employees knew he was referring to her and two other former workers.
Daystar countersued Hawkins and two other women accusing them of conspiring to commit extortion, violating confidentiality agreements and seeking profit at Daystar's expense. In December, Bedford police closed an investigation into an alleged extortion plot against Lamb, saying no laws were broken.
In a resignation email quoted in the network's countersuit, Hawkins wrote to Marcus and Joni Lamb saying, "Thank you both for a wonderful opportunity and it is hard saying good bye to the Daystar family! I will miss you."
Daystar's suit says Hawkins has emotional problems that have nothing to do with Daystar.
The women's attorney said that, because police have closed their case, Daystar's countersuit is baseless.
Recently, a Dallas judge ruled that the suit against Daystar could proceed in Dallas County despite efforts by Daystar's attorneys to change venues. Ross said Daystar plans to appeal the ruling.
A federal suit has also been filed against Daystar. In it, Joni Lamb's father, Bill Trammell, is accused of sexually harassing a former employee, Jennifer Falcon, one of the women being sued by Daystar. The suit accuses Trammell of engaging in inappropriate behavior, such as telling the woman to sit on his lap and hugging her tightly for prolonged periods. Daystar said Falcon's allegations are meritless.
Falcon was fired about two months after Trammell was confronted by Joni Lamb and another woman about his behavior, according to Falcon's suit.
Daystar's lawsuit says Hawkins, Falcon and a third woman have "spun a web of deceit to the media." It says Falcon "fully and finally released any claims she had against Daystar in a written severance agreement under which she received eight weeks of severance pay."
Falcon says in her suit that she didn't understand the release forms when she signed them at the direction of a Daystar official.
John Lynch IV, a Grapevine lawyer for Daystar, and the women's attorney, Jim Fisher, had no comment.
Darren Barbee, 817-390-7126