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Reality Boxing Injunction Goes to Round 2

Aug 18, 2004  •  Post A Comment

A California Superior Court Judge refused Wednesday to grant an emergency injunction preventing Fox from launching its boxing reality show “The Next Great Champ,” but granted producers of the rival boxing show “The Contender” a hearing on the matter Sept. 8, two days before “The Next Great Champ’s” Sept. 10 premiere.

DreamWorks Television and Mark Burnett Productions, which are producing NBC’s rival boxing reality show “The Contender,” filed the injunction, accusing “Champ” producers and Fox of violating California law by not following the rules of the California State Athletic Commission, which regulates boxing in the state. The former chair of the commission criticized “Champ” producers in an Aug. 12 report, whose findings were the basis of DreamWorks and Mark Burnett’s suit.

DreamWorks and Mr. Burnett have been extremely critical of “Champ” and Fox, accusing the network of stealing their concept after NBC won the highly competitive bidding war for “The Contender.” NBC is not involved in DreamWorks and Mr. Burnett’s legal maneuvers. Both sides were spinning today’s ruling as a win.

“Basically, this means we will have our day in court,” said a DreamWorks spokesperson. “We were hopeful that we would get an expedited hearing in this nature.”

Fox released a statement Wednesday afternoon calling the decision “a great victory” for “The Next Great Champ” and noting that since the commission hasn’t ruled on the boxing matches that will take place on the show, there was no need for any legal action. The commission is expected to respond to the August report by Sept. 3.

“As the producers of ‘The Contender’ well know, The California Athletic Commission has not made any findings or rulings,” Fox said in its statement. “This is yet another in a series of never-ending attempts by ‘The Contender’s’ producers to stifle competition. They are simply trying to impede Fox’s First Amendment rights by inserting themselves into a procedure in which they have no legitimate role.”

“The Next Great Champ” is produced by Endemol USA in association with “Champ” host Oscar De la Hoya’s Golden Boy promotions. Golden Boy Productions was not named in the suit.