Turner Broadcasting System Inc. will launch its Turner
South regional cable network in October with its sports programming intact after winning a
court case last week against Fox Sports Net South.
A Fulton County, Ga., Superior Court judge ruled against
Fox Sports Net South's complaint against Turner, filed in June over the regional
service's carriage of local professional-sports programming.
The complaint sought to stop the launch of Turner South by
stating that the network's carriage of Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball, Atlanta
Hawks National Basketball Association and Atlanta Thrashers National Hockey League games
violated a noncompete agreement reached between Turner South parent Time Warner Inc. and
Fox as part of Fox/Liberty Networks' acquisition of Turner's interest in
Turner executives released a statement saying they were
"pleased with the court's decision and its recognition that Turner Broadcasting
System Inc. has complied with its legal obligations."
Fox Sports Net South general manager Hunter Nickell said in
a prepared statement that the network is "obviously disappointed with Judge
Barnes' decision that Turner South is not a regional sports network, but a regional
entertainment network. He did, however, limit his decision to sports programming on Turner
South as currently proposed -- involving Atlanta Braves, Hawks and Thrashers
Nickell also said the network will be "examining the
legal options available to us."
With the court case out of the way, Turner South is now
expected to launch Oct. 1 to cable and direct-broadcast satellite affiliates in Alabama,
Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and regions of North Carolina.