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Why You Won't See Bennett Cunningham on Channel 11 Tonight. Or Tomorrow Night. Or ...

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KTVT-Channel 11 investigative reporter Bennett Cunningham has myriad awards to his name -- including, most recently, a National Headliners Award for his ride aboard Dallas Area Rapid Transit's "Gravy Train," and three Lone Star Emmys, including one for Best Investigative Reporter (his second in as many years). He's also part of the news team that helped KTVT best WFAA-Channel 8 for the first time ever at 10 p.m. To his résumé, though, you can now add "former KTVT-Channel 11 investigative reporter": Cunningham quit the CBS affiliate today after, he says, he was asked to take a five-figure pay cut.

Cunningham tells Unfair Park that his contract was up yesterday, and that station management had already agreed last month to renew his deal for the same salary he'd made for the past three years. But this morning, he says, he was asked to breakfast by management, and he was told, sorry, but he'd have to lose $17,000 out of his salary. To which Cunningham says he replied: "No, that's unacceptable." He then quit.

A message was left for mews director Scott Diener. Lori Conrad, the station's spokesperson, says via e-mail only that "Bennett has decided to leave."

Cunningham, who's licensed to practice law in Texas, says he'll go be an attorney now.

"There's nothing else for me but a pay cut," he says. "After all I've done for the station -- the awards, helping us get to No. 1 for this November's ratings book -- they said, 'By the way, we're taking money off the table.' That's not an incentive for me to stay. I'm 41, and I don't want to be an investigative reporter who's 55, 60 being kicked out the door with the same salary and no place to go."

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