Skid Marks: NBC Sues Championship Off Road Racing

NBC Universal has filed suit against a dirt-track racing series, alleging that it breached a $6.4 million contract to buy airtime on NBC Sports. Court papers shed light on what NBC charges programmers for time buys on Sunday afternoons.

The suit charges Championship Off Road Racing (CORR) with owing NBC $4.8 million on a deal to air races on NBC -- originally nine each in 2008 and 2009. After experiencing financial trouble last year, CORR collapsed.

The arrangement called for CORR to purchase the airtime -- a total of more than 25 hours over two years -- and produce the car and truck race broadcasts itself. Failing that, CORR was to provide NBC with "alternative sports programming" but still pay the full amount, NBCU alleges in court papers.

The breach-of-contract suit against CORR and parent XR Promotions was filed late last month in New York State Supreme Court.

NBCU charges that CORR has only paid $1.6 million on the $6.4 million deal, while telling NBC that it will not provide it with any more programming. As its financial difficulties mounted, CORR cancelled several races at the end of last year.

"CORR has never disputed that it owes NBC the fees," NBCU wrote in court papers. "In fact, it has acknowledged its debt. It simply has decided to stop paying the fees."

Under the contract, CORR was to pay an average of $335,000 for eight 90-minute time slots on NBC last year. The time slots were on Sunday afternoons.

But that was an amended version of a deal that originally called for CORR to pay NBCU $3.6 million for nine slots -- for an average of $398,000.

CORR was to receive all the ad time under the deal, according to NBCU's court filing. It was signed in late 2007.

Calls to NBC Sports were not immediately returned. CORR and its CEO and owner James Baldwin could not be reached. Based in Newport Beach, Calif., the racing circuit's Web site has been taken down.

NBCU has had a relationship with CORR since 2005. CORR races have also aired on News Corp.'s Speed network.

NBC Sports has not abandoned off-road car and truck racing. The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series has announced that NBC will air a live race in a weekend prime-time slot in November.

The last CORR race carried on the Speed network came in September 2008. A Speed representative said CORR does not owe it any money, since their deal did not involve any rights fees. Instead, the two parties split the ad time.

Next story loading loading..