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Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Director Lee halts Spike TV
Spike Lee
Spike Lee wrote and directed Do the Right Thing, among other movies

Film-maker Spike Lee has won a temporary injunction preventing US media giant Viacom from renaming a cable channel Spike TV.

Lee had asked a Manhattan court to stop the company renaming its TNN network, saying he did not want his name associated with the male-orientated channel.

In granting the temporary injunction, pending a trial on the issue, the judge ordered Lee to post a $500,000 (299,336) bond to cover Viacom's costs in case he loses.

Viacom planned to change the name on 16 June as it bids to become "the first network for men".

Among its schedules are repeats of the A-Team and Baywatch as well as a cartoon called Stripperella, voiced by Pamela Anderson.

Lee, who directed Malcolm X and Do the Right Thing, saw the name change as a deliberate attempt to cash in on his name and image.

Viacom argued that there was no law protecting a celebrity's first name and that spike is a word in the English language which has many meanings.

Immediate appeal

But State Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub said: "Contrary to defendants' position, the court is of the opinion that in the age of mass communication, a celebrity can in fact establish a vested right in the use of only their first name or a surname.

"There are many celebrities that are so recognised, including Cher, Madonna, Sting and Liza."

Celebrity lawyer Johnnie Cochran, representing Lee, said: "We're obviously elated. We had a good judge who looked at the law and at the facts."

Viacom said it would immediately appeal the judge's decision and seek a stay of the injunction.

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