Inside Move: Viacom vexed over current events

Conglom kicked and Spiked in rough week

Last week wasn’t the best for the normally boffo Viacom.

First, filmmaker Spike Lee effectively stopped TNN’s skedded June 13 relaunch as Spike TV. Lee had won an injunction to stop the new name on grounds that it borrowed from his moniker and persona. On June 19, an appeals court judge rejected Viacom’s attempt to overturn that ruling. A stunned Viacom estimates it lost at least $30 million because of the delay.

Compounding the conglom’s woes, someone leaked to the New York Times a letter sent by CBS News to U.S. Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was rescued by U.S. troops in Iraq. CBS News, hoping to nail the first exclusive interview, suggested a list of separate projects that other Viacom properties might offer, including an MTV special.

CBS News issued a statement saying that the pitch was beyond reproach and that the Times, and not the Eye, has a reputation for being ethically challenged.

Finally, a U.S. Senate panel voted June 19 to gut the FCC’s recent relaxation of key media ownership rules. NBC, News Corp. and Viacom were at the forefront of the fight to relax the rules.

The one bright spot for Viacom: No one thinks the full Congress will pass the panel’s legislation.