TV One Suing BET Over Essence Music Festival Telecast
TV One has filed a lawsuit against BET for allegedly broadcasting a "rogue" program about the Essence Music Festival, which featured performances from Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys and others, without their permission. The African-American network claims they own the television rights to the festival and their competitor BET sabotaged it with their special.
According to the suit, TV One maintains that in 2010 they paid $500,000 and $750,000 in 2011 to acquire the exclusive television rights to the Essence Music Festival. The network also had secure an agreement, which prevents Essence Productions and its licensor from allowing other networks targeting African-American viewers to broadcast the show. In addition, TV One also spent $1.5 million to produce their own television special.
However, in late June, just a week before TV One was to air a program on the Essence Music Festival, BET allegedly aired a near copy of the show featuring performances from the 2010 event. The program even featured TV One's watermark and production credits from several of the network's employees, TV One alleges.
Despite issuing a cease-and-desist order to BET, the damage was already done. Not only did the program infringed on TV One's rights, it undermined their agreements with advertisers and jeopardize their relationship with the public.
TV One is seeking monetary damages for copyright infringement and other violations of the California business code. BET had no comments on the matter.