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Cox Cable Fighting Mad at Channel 8 : Television: Legal action considered because of unauthorized usage of Cooney-Foreman tape.

January 18, 1990|KEVIN BRASS

SAN DIEGO — Cox Cable is considering legal action against KFMB-TV (Channel 8) for using unauthorized videotape of the George Foreman-Gerry Cooney fight during its 11 p.m. newscast Monday, according to Marty Youngman, Cox pay-per-view manager.

Youngman said this was the first case he could recall of a San Diego network affiliate using videotape of a pay-per-view event without permission.

Neither Jim Holtzman, Channel 8 news director, nor sports director Ted Leitner returned phone calls Tuesday afternoon. Mike Reinberger, Channel 8's interim sports producer, declined comment.

KGTV (Channel 10), KNSD-TV (Channel 39) and ESPN, the national sports network, used still photographs from the fight, won by Foreman with a second-round knockout. Channel 8 showed video of the fight highlights, including the final knockdown.

In most events of this kind, cable systems throughout the country pay the fight promoter for the exclusive rights. Cox, acting as the San Diego Cable Sports Network, bought the rights for San Diego County from Top Rank Inc. and licensed other cable systems throughout the county to air it. Cox customers paid $20 per household to see the fight.

"Channel 8 is specifically prohibited by my contract" from using footage, according to Youngman. "It's something neither we nor Top Rank will put up with."

When a bar or restaurant screens a fight without permission, it's not unusual for the cable system to seek monetary damages. Youngman said that is one option in what he said is a unique case. He wouldn't say what other options might be.

"We want people to know that if it is an exclusive program they can't turn to the 11 p.m. news for highlights," he said. "I'm more concerned with stopping it and making sure it doesn't happen again."

Youngman said someone from Channel 8 had called him on Monday to ask if fight footage could be used, but Wednesday he couldn't identify the caller.

Youngman said Cox will investigate further before deciding on a course of action.

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