Spike TV Spiked, At Least For A While

It's going to be The New TNN for a while longer, at least into September.

A Viacom spokeswoman said Friday that it would continue its efforts to rebrand The New TNN as cable's first male-oriented network. That follows a New York State Appellate Court's decision on Thursday to retain an injunction requested by filmmaker Spike Lee until a trial can begin in September. It means that the network, which had been rebranded with great fanfare earlier this year, won't be able to be called Spike TV at least until then and perhaps forever, depending on the court's decision or Viacom's willingness to fight the issue.

The spokeswoman said that despite the decision, the programming already planned this summer for Spike TV will air on what will remain The New TNN for the time being. The Thursday night animation block scheduled to kick off this week will continue. The two-hour programming includes new and classic episodes of Ren & Stimpy along with two other guy-oriented cartoons: Stan Lee's Stripperella, which will star the voice of Pamela Anderson as a secret agent who doubles as a stripper, and Gary the Rat, which has the voice of Kelsey Grammer as a sleazy lawyer who wakes up to find out he's become a rat.



Other specials, including the Video Game Awards and the GQ Men of the Year Awards, scheduled for the early fall, will go on as scheduled, she said.

While the spokeswoman wouldn't comment on how much Viacom was losing by being unable to use the Spike TV name, Viacom lawyers said in court last week that it would cost millions. The first week would cost about $17 million, TNN said in a court filing. Millions more are at stake because at least some advertiser commitments were tied to a rebranding to Spike TV, lawyers said.

TNN has seen a lot of changes in its 20-year history. It started as a country-music-flavored network and then, after its purchase by Viacom, became a more general-interest network. It's WWE wrestling events regularly hit the top 10 basic-cable network ratings among total households and is also popular among men 18-49. It also has shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Mad-TV and Baywatch. The network reaches 86 million households.

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