TNN, Lee resolve Spike fight

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After much legal wrangling, The New TNN is now free to take on the
no-longer-contested Spike TV name.

A New York judge Monday tossed out an earlier injunction in favor of
filmmaker Spike Lee that barred TNN from adopting the new name.

"My headline on the news: Spike TV lives," network president Albie Hecht
said Tuesday at the Television Critics Association gathering in Los Angeles.
"It’s been unfortunate, it’s been rough. Now the speed bump is over and we’re
back on track," he added.

As part of a settlement between the Viacom Inc.-owned cable network and Lee, the
filmmaker and his wife will work on future projects for MTV Networks. Financial
terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Spike (Lee) and Spike (the network) tried to present a united front Tuesday,
releasing a joint statement praising the resolution.

"On reviewing circumstances concerning the name change, I no longer believe Viacom deliberately intended to trade on my name when naming
Spike TV," Lee said, adding he was pleased to be able to work on new projects
with Viacom. He is already working with Viacom-owned Showtime.

Viacom said it was "delighted" to have resolved the suit.

Before Monday's ruling, the dispute was slated to go to trial Aug. 18.

Hecht said TNN should morph into Spike TV within one month to give the network
time to change its marketing and promotional material, as well as its on-air
graphics. "We de-Spiked, so now we need to re-Spike," he quipped.

The very public battle over Spike TV has given the network plenty of free
publicity and exposure.

But Viacom said the delay has cost the network millions of dollars. Earlier
Viacom estimates said TNN would lose $17 million in just the first week
alone.

Spike TV was originally slated to debut June 16, but TNN had to scrap the
name after Lee won an injunction June 12.

While the two sides squabbled in court, TNN pushed ahead with its new
guy-oriented positioning and launched new programming as planned.

A victorious Hecht said the Spike TV name was worth the fight. "You need a
name that is going to be a lightning rod of the brand," he added.

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