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Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 12:53 GMT


Hey, hey, it's a Monkee victory

The Monkees: Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz

Former Monkees star Michael Nesmith has won $46m in damages after a court battle against a US broadcasting network.

The Public Broadcasting Service was found liable to breach of contact and fraud in a row over the rights to a video library of PBS programmes. The network said it would fight the verdict.

Nesmith, one of the four members of the 1960s pop group, told a federal court in Los Angeles that PBS promised in 1993 to help save his distribution business, Pacific Arts. The company found itself heavily in debt after establishing the Silver Top PBS Home Video Library, which sold a range of leading PBS programmes.

Network 'cheated' Nesmith

[ image: The Monkees, 1960s-style]
The Monkees, 1960s-style
He alleged the network convinced the programmes' producers to end their distribution contracts with Pacific Arts and sign up with PBS instead. But then, he said, new distributors were found for the Home Video Library, and a $27m business was built around them.

He said: "It's like finding your grandmother stealing your stereo. You're happy to get your stereo back, but it's sad to find out your grandmother is a thief.

"They lied to me, they cheated me, they made an attempt to get the catalogue dishonestly. They were unethical and duplicitous."

PBS director of corporate communications Stu Kantor said the network would appeal.

"PBS believes the facts and the law I the case merited a verdict in its favour. We will take every option, including filing motions to set aside the verdict."

PBS seen as bastion of integrity

Pacific Arts won $14.6m in compensatory damages and $29.2m in punitive damages, while Nesmith personally won $1m in compensatory damages and $2m in punitive damages.

The state-funded PBS system is seen as a bastion of integrity in the notoriously cut-throat US TV market, promoting itself with the slogan "If PBS Doesn't Do It, Who Will?"

The Monkees' TV show first appeared on NBC in 1966, following in the footsteps of the Beatles' film A Hard Days Night. The success of the TV show made the foursome - Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork - start performing their music live.

The group split after problems hit the recording of their second series in 1967. As well as starting Pacific Arts, Nesmith is also credited with helping establish the concept behind MTV.

He has also gone into film production, and still performs live from time to time.

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