Jim Owens Entertainment ends licensing deal with Luken

By on Oct, 30 2013 with Comments 0

The Nashville NetworkJim Owens Entertainment announced it has taken legal action to end its license agreement with Chattanooga-based multicast network provider, Luken Communications, “due to Luken’s default on the trademark agreement for the use of the name and logo for The Nashville Network (TNN).  This action by has been approved by the United States Bankruptcy Court in Chattanooga.

Meanwhile, Luken launched “The Heartland Network” 10/9 as an American country music-oriented digital broadcast television network. It was billed as a name change for TNN, which was a previous JV between Luken and Jim Owens Entertainment that launched on 11/1/12. TNN originally aired on cable from 1983-2000. On 9/25/00, TNN’s country music format was changed and the network was renamed The National Network, eventually becoming Spike in 2003.

In June, Luken filed Chapter 11 after losing a suit in Arkansas involving their purchase of the Retro TV Network from Equity Holdings.  Jim Owens Entertainment filed the motion in the bankruptcy proceeding after Luken confirmed that it could no longer comply with the conditions of their license.

Said Jim Owens, President and CEO of Jim Owens Entertainment: “We are thrilled to have regained total control of our Federal Trademark “The Nashville Network”.  We feel it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the history and tradition of this world famous brand.  We are privileged to be the trustee of this important icon, and take seriously our responsibility to the music industry and the viewing public to protect it at all costs, and we have taken the necessary legal steps to do just that.”

Luken says The Heartland Network features a broader spectrum of true country music, including Bluegrass, Americana, Texas country and more. Heartland has 18 existing Luken affiliate stations including WSMV in Nashville, WBMA in Birmingham, KIVI in Boise and WPSD in Paducah.

Heartland’s program lineup includes The Rick & Bubba Show, Texas Music Scene, Nashville Now, The Country Vibe, Music City Tonight, Gaither Gospel Hour, Larry’s Country Diner and classic episodes of Crook & Chase.

When asked about future plans for The Nashville Network brand, Owens says he is reviewing a number of options; and has had extensive interest and proposals in “returning the network to its former and rightful place as the leader in country music television.”

Jim Owens is a producer of country music programming and maintains a growing library of over 10,000 hours of both current and historic shows and raw footage.

One of his brands is the “Crook & Chase” TV show, currently seen weekly in 166 markets, reaching 70% of all US TV Households; and the four-hour weekly radio show “Crook & Chase Countdown” is heard in 231 markets via Clear Channel/Premiere Networks.

RBR-TVBR spoke with Jerry Fox of Crook & Chase: Will Heartland Network will be able to continue operations?  If so, what will it have to change after this court ruling? No more Crook & Chase at least, right?
“I Really cannot answer your question re: Heartland.  I think the bigger question is can Luken Communications survive.  The Chapter 11 effects the entire company and all their networks not just Heartland.  As to changes, you are correct, they no longer have a program license to air the NEW current production of Crook & Chase shows and the remaining content they licensed from Jim Owens Entertainment, Inc. is in jeopardy as well. The fate of that goes before the court on November 20th.  Obviously they can no longer use the TNN trademarks or Logos including America’s Country Home and the letters TNN.”

About The Author: Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.

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