Viacom Prepares for Spike Switch

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Viacom Inc. is getting its marketing gears in motion to finally go ahead and
rechristen The New TNN as Spike TV now that Spike Lee claims to have had a
change of heart and settled his lawsuit with the programming giant.

The diminutive director, in a prepared statement issued jointly Tuesday with
Viacom, claimed that he didn’t want to impinge on the programmer’s First
Amendment rights by pursuing his suit, which had alleged that TNN was trying to
trade on his name and reputation by using the name Spike TV.

However, neither side disclosed the terms of the settlement, such as whether
Lee received any compensation in exchange for dropping his case.

In his statement, Lee said, "I no longer believe Viacom deliberately intended
to trade on my name when naming Spike TV. As an artist and a filmmaker, I feel
that protection of freedom of expression is a critical value, and I am concerned
that my efforts to stop Viacom from using the Spike TV name could have the
unintended consequence of threatening the First Amendment rights of Viacom and
others."

In court Tuesday, New York State Supreme Court Judge Walter Tolub vacated and
recalled the preliminary injunction that he issued June 12, which barred TNN
from changing its name to Spike TV until there was a trial on the matter.

Tolub had told Lee last week that he needed to post an additional $2 million,
on top of an initial $500,000 bond, to potentially compensate Viacom for damages
it was incurring because of the suit. Apparently, the $2 million was never
posted.

In addition, Tolub said the case would be determined in August by a judge,
and not a jury trial, and that development was a setback for Lee.

A spokeswoman at Viacom’s MTV Networks said the Spike TV name change would
take place as soon as possible, but there are some logistics involved in terms
of making that transition.

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