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Fox News threatens lawsuit over billboard

Company refuses to put up cheeky tweak at CNN
/ Source: The Associated Press

Fox News Channel is threatening to take a sign company to court if it does not post a cheeky billboard tweaking archrival CNN.

Fox claims the owners of the billboard, across the street from CNN’s Atlanta offices, refuse to post a message trumpeting Fox’s successes in the ratings war between the cable networks.

Fox lawyer Dianne Brandi said in a letter that Atlanta company Camfaux may have buckled to pressure from CNN not to put up the message.

“Should you choose not to put up the billboard immediately, we will consider all options available to us, including, of course, legal options,” Brandi wrote.

Camfaux president Tony Vergoven said his company owned the billboard when Fox began renting it in 1999 but has since sold it to Boardworks Outdoor Advertising, another Atlanta company.

“We have no control, or we’d be taking care of Fox,” Vergoven said.

Boardworks officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

“As far as we know, no one from CNN had any effect in the billboard owner’s decision not to post this billboard,” CNN said in a statement.

The proposed sign would read: “Now That CNN’s Ratings are Gone With the Wind, Our Work on This Board Is Done. We Love You Atlanta. Brought to you by your friends at FOX News Channel.”

Below that message would be a less-than-subtle pitch to the hundreds of CNN employees who file past the board every day.

“Sign Up with America’s Newsroom! Forward resumes to resumes(at)”

Fox officials demanded that the sign be changed by noon on Thursday. By about 4 p.m., it remained unchanged.

Since 1999, the sign overlooking CNN Center has alternately trumpeted Fox’s triumphs or taken jabs at CNN. It featured legal reporter Greta Van Susteren, shortly after she left CNN for Fox, and accused the network of lacking patriotism during the war in Iraq.

For the past several months it has read, “Come Home Connie. CNN Needs You.” Connie Chung was fired abruptly in March 2003, not long after CNN founder Ted Turner called her “just awful” in an interview.

On a typical prime-time night during the last three months of 2003, Fox News Channel averaged 1.46 million viewers. CNN had 909,000 viewers and MSNBC had 293,000 viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.