LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A battle between television network CBS and singer Rihanna over the use of one of her songs for its "Thursday Night Football" program escalated on Tuesday when CBS said it would drop it from its marquee prime-time show.
The decision came after the 26-year-old Barbadian singer took to Twitter to rail against the network for its decision to scrap the song last week along with other planned content as the network focused on the NFL's growing domestic violence scandal.
CBS said on Tuesday it will open the show with original theme music.
"CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday," the Grammy winner said, punctuating the Tweet to her 37.2 million followers with an expletive. "Y'all are sad for penalizing me for this."
Neither CBS nor Rihanna directly acknowledged that the singer's past history as a victim of domestic violence played a role in the decision. She was assaulted by singer and then-boyfriend Chris Brown on the eve of the 2009 Grammy Awards and a picture of her severely bruised face became a emblem of domestic abuse and violence against women.
The CBS Corp-owned network, which won the rights to broadcast eight NFL games in prime time on Thursdays this season, did not use Rihanna's version of "Run This Town" by rapper Jay Z as part of its planned opening segment last week in a game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Instead of the song, the network covered the indefinite suspension of former Ravens running back Ray Rice for domestic abuse and an essay on domestic violence among other content.
CBS said on Tuesday it was changing the format of the opening. "Beginning this Thursday, we will be moving in a different direction with some elements of our 'Thursday Night Football' open," CBS said in a statement. "We will be using our newly created 'Thursday Night Football' theme music to open our game broadcast."
The United States' most popular sport league and its commissioner Roger Goodell have come under intense public criticism for its handling of the Rice case.
CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said last week that the change in the broadcast reflected events. "We thought journalistic ally and from a tone standpoint, we needed to have the appropriate tone coverage," he told "Sports Illustrated" last week. CBS pulled several pre-game items including a comedy sketch.
Goodell initially suspended Rice, an Pro Bowl player, two games for punching his then fiancée in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino elevator.
Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely last week after surveillance footage was published showing Rice knocking his now wife unconscious with a punch.
Goodell said the NFL had not seen the video when it handed down its punishment to Rice, who was also cut by the Ravens after the footage was released by celebrity website TMZ.
The criticism has led the NFL to apologize and toughen its domestic violence penalties.
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)