Judge: Fox’s ‘Champ’ Can Air

Aug 27, 2004  •  Post A Comment

A California Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the court would not prevent the Fox Network and producers Endemol USA and Lock & Key Productions from airing the reality boxing show “The Next Great Champ,” which is scheduled to premiere Sept. 7.

Rival reality boxing show producers DreamWorks Television and Mark Burnett Productions initiated Friday’s ruling when they alleged “Champ” producers violated state boxing regulations in their rush to get the show on the air. DreamWorks and Mark Burnett Productions have accused Fox of copying the idea of their NBC show, “The Contender,” scheduled to air in November.

“The judge ultimately did not find there was significant suffering or compelling government interest to justify the blocking of the broadcast,” DreamWorks spokesman Andy Spahn said. The ruling effectively ends DreamWorks’ and Mark Burnett Productions’ legal attempts to block the show from airing.

“We’re going to review the options available to us,” Mr. Spahn said. “It’s not clear what role if any we will play in the continuing legal questions.”

The California State Athletic Commission, which oversees boxing in the state, was scheduled to meet Sept. 3 to discuss the findings of a report written by the commission’s recently retired chairman, who argued Endemol USA and Lock & Key had violated boxing guidelines in making “Champ.” Due to an inability to get a quorum, the commission is now not expected to meet until after the show premieres.

Fox was quick to praise the court’s decision. “We are elated that the series will premiere,” Fox said Friday in a statement. “We are grateful the court clearly recognized that this action constituted an improper prior restraint, which would have inappropriately infringed upon our First Amendment rights.”