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Filmmaker Sues Viacom Over Network Name

Spike Lee says TNN's new moniker, Spike TV, wrongly connects him to the cable station.

June 04, 2003|From Bloomberg News

Filmmaker Spike Lee has sued Viacom Inc. over its decision to rename its TNN cable-television network Spike TV to attract more male viewers.

Lee said in a lawsuit filed in New York that he was "extremely upset" over the name Viacom chose to rechristen the network. He said he has no connection with it. Lee said in court papers that it is obvious that "Spike TV referred to Spike Lee."

Viacom announced the name change April 15 in an attempt to build on an audience that's already about 65% male. TNN's top-rated show is World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.'s "WWE Raw."

A hearing on the dispute was scheduled for June 9. The name change is scheduled to take effect June 16.

In response to the suit, Spike TV issued a statement saying it expects to win the case.

"We have the utmost respect for Mr. Lee as one of the industry's most important filmmakers," the network said. "We are certain however, that our conduct in launching Spike TV was completely appropriate."

Lee included affidavits signed by a variety of well-known people, including former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, actor Edward Norton and Calvin Butts, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, N.Y.

All said they assumed Lee was involved with Spike TV when they first heard of the planned name change.

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