The Not-so-New TNN: Name Change Spiked6/13/2003 4:39 AM Eastern
Viacom Inc. Friday lost its last-minute bid to get court permission to rename
The New TNN as Spike TV Monday.
However, the programmer will be able to plead its case Tuesday before a full
panel of an appeals court.
In the interim, TNN, which is relaunching as a men's network, will still have
its old moniker as filmmaker Spike Lee wages a legal battle against the
On Friday, attorneys for Viacom unsuccessfully tried to appeal a judge's
decision Thursday that barred the company from rebranding TNN effective Monday.
New York Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub had issued that temporary injunction
until there's a trial on a lawsuit brought earlier this month by Lee.
But Friday, Viacom did succeed in getting the full appellate hearing.
"We are continuing on our path to build the first network for men, and we
will proceed on schedule with the premieres of our exciting new programs," TNN
said in a statement issued late Friday afternoon. "We are pleased that our
argument will be considered by the full panel of the Appellate Division next
Tuesday, and we trust that the court will agree with us. Until the matter is
resolved, we will remain The New TNN."
Lee objects to TNN using the name Spike, alleging that the network is trying
to capitalize on his reputation for irreverence and aggressiveness. Lee argued
that people believe he is involved with the cable outlet, and he does not want
his name associated with a network that will air lowbrow programming. TNN's
lineup includes an animated show about a superhero stripper voiced by Pamela
The judge made Lee, represented by Johnnie Cochran, post a $500,000 bond to
cover Viacom's legal expenses and other costs if he doesn't win his suit against
The next hearing on the case is June 23.
In ruling on the temporary injunction, Tolub said, "What appears, at first
blush, to be an exercise in egocentricity becomes on closer review an earnest
attempt by a prominent personality to limit what he regards as the commercial
exploitation of his name."