Olbermann Sues Current TV, Cites Marketing, Promotional Concerns
Many of the complaints in a lawsuit filed by former Current TV host Keith Olbermann against Current TV on Thursday come down to marketing and promotion -- as well as technical -- issues.
Among the major problems listed in his legal filing was that Current -- in what it said breached both the spirit and the letter of the contract with Olbermann -- used “broadcasting advertisements containing Olbermann's likeness without his consent.”
The suit also claimed that the company could be found “linking Olbermann's name and goodwill with corporate endorsements without his consent,” adding the network was “disclosing the confidential terms of his contract” and “disparaging Olbermann publicly.”
Olbermann was in the first year of a five-year deal with Current that paid him $10 million a year. “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” started June 2011, after a long run with the show of the same name on MSNBC.
Shortly after the launch of “Countdown,” Olbermann’s manager Michael Price sent a list of necessary upgrades to co-Current CEO Joel Hyatt, according to the lawsuit. Olbermann requested better studio and production facilities -- a constant problem from the start -- but Price also asked for publicity and marketing improvements.
Other issues included using “guest hosts for Olbermann's program without obtaining his approval, as well as “refusing to allow Olbermann to exercise his contractually granted editorial control over special election coverage.”
The lawsuit also states that the network could be found “ignoring Olbermann's consultation rights” and “refusing to invest resources and hire appropriate personnel in order to professionally and competently produce the program.”
Current TV co-CEOs Al Gore and Joel Hyatt fired Olbermann last week, detailing in a company blog that Olbermann did not abide by "values" the network was built around. A termination letter, according to the lawsuit, said this included major absences. Olbermann’s lawsuit says this isn’t true -- the absences were approved in advance, some for medical reasons.
Olbermann is suing for the remainder of his $50 million contract and damages.