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A major lawsuit in Madison County (IN) courts is taking place after a major MTV client sued them.

The American Speed Association, which has aired programming on The Nashville Network since 1991 until its official closing in September 2000, and its successor, MTV National, has filed a complaint against MTV in the court after MTV notified ASA, which they own 25%, would not air live, but on tape delay, two ASA ACDelco Series races.

The ASA, run by the Robbins family and based in Pendleton, IN (Anderson suburb), learned MTV National is planning to exit the auto racing business, and is attempting to leave a five-year contract signed between CBS and the ASA in January 2000 as UPN/MTV was in the process of the takeover of CBS.

ASA's formal complaint seeks an injunction to prevent MTV National from preempting the live broadcasts scheduled for the Monday, September 3, event from the Minnesota State Fair Speedway in St. Paul, MN, and the season-ending race scheduled for Saturday night, September 29, at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, IN.

"This whole situation is truly disappointing," commented ASA Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mark Gundrum. "Unfortunately, it appears (MTV National's) new management has decided to get out of the motorsports broadcasting business, despite the fact we still have three years remaining on the original media broadcast rights agreement."

ASA and CBS Cable's The Nashville Network entered into a multi-faceted contractual agreement in January of 2000, with TNN acquiring a 25-percent equity ownership stake in ASA, along with a five-year exclusive media broadcast rights and promotional agreement.

They noted MTV acquired the CBS Cable lots as part of UPN's purchase of CBS.

"When we entered into the agreement with TNN in January of 2000, both parties viewed the relationship as a 'win-win' situation," ASA Executive Vice President Brian Robbins, the son of founder Rex, stated. "The spirit of the agreement called for TNN to help ASA grow its business through its equity ownership position. Unfortunately, with the change of ownership, it appears the new management does not have the same vision for the partnership as we had with TNN at the time we made the agreement."

On September 25, 2000, after months of work by MTV and UPN, TNN was closed and the new MTV National channel was formed by MTV. MTV Networks
set out to reposition the new MTV National with new management (David Hall was ousted, and replaced by Nickelodeon's Herb Scannell and Diane Robina), and programming aimed at a younger audience. While the weekend "sports and outdoor programming" lineup remained virtually unchanged, MTV National's weekday, prime-time programming schedule was completely overhauled.

MTV Networks acquired the broadcast rights to the World Wrestling Federation (NYSE:WWF), and placed the nation's highest-rated cable show, WWF Raw, on MTV National on Monday nights. The network then added programming, including Miami Vice, Star Trek and box-office hit movies, to its weeknight lineup, supporting the new prime-time schedule with an aggressive promotional campaign anchored by the "We've Got Pop" theme.

Officials also noted after the NASCAR television rights contract was awarded to Fox and NBC, beginning in 2001, the end of TNN's motor racing programming was being considered. But to the surprise of many, lame-duck CBS officials made the move a month after UPN officials denied CBS the NASCAR contract to purchase their stake in the American Speed Association. In March, the popular "RaceDay" programme, which had run on TNN for ten years, as discontinued by MTV.

Gundrum also said in the release, "When RaceDay was cancelled in April of this year, many felt the future of racing was in jeopardy on (MTV National). However, we were unable to get any direction at all from MTV Networks regarding their thoughts or plans for ASA. It wasn't until late July that we even had the opportunity to talk to anyone at MTV Networks, but the tone of that first conversation led us to believe that things would more than likely be changing."

Also MTV would be charged for breach of contract. All 20 scheduled ASA events were scheduled for live coverage, and 18 Pennzoil World of Outlaws races would air on MTV National, as both honoured CBS contracts which MTV was handed. But starting with the prestigious BP Amoco (NYSE:BP) Knoxville (IA) Nationals, the WoO would air only on tape.

This shows what MTV is wanting -- more pornography.
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