Dear Hollywood: Here's The THR Legal Letter To Nikki Finke
Blogger Nikki Finke has posted a false item about The Hollywood Reporter on her Penske Media Corp.-owned website. For the record, here is the full text of the letter our legal counsel at Debevoise and Plimpton sent to Finke and PMC owner Jay Penske earlier today:
September 9, 2011
By Email AND FEDERAL EXPRESS
Mr. Jay Penske
Chairman and CEO
9800 S. La Cienega Blvd., 14th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90301
The Hollywood Reporter
Dear Mr. Penske:
Our client, Prometheus Global Media LLC (“Prometheus”), owns and operates The Hollywood Reporter and its website, www.hollywoodreporter.com (collectively, “THR”). It has come to our client’s attention that your employee, Nikki Finke of Deadline.com, is now engaged in conduct on your behalf that crosses the line from her usual bad behavior to a concerted and unlawful attempt to disrupt THR’s business.
In an effort to gain a competitive advantage for Deadline.com, Ms. Finke falsely has told THR advertisers and others in the Hollywood community that THR is experiencing financial problems will cause it to make massive layoffs, end its print edition and/or go out of business, or be sold by Prometheus. None of this is true. Ms. Finke also has engaged in harassment of THR staff, interrupting their daily tasks by contacting them directly with baseless complaints about a variety of matters (recently, she emailed one employee with the threat of “humiliating” him). This behavior appears to be an escalation of a past pattern and practice by Ms. Finke, which, almost annually, intensifies as Academy Awards season draws closer. This time, however, she has crossed the line from unpleasant to unlawful.
There is no truth to the statements being made by Ms. Finke that things are not going well financially for THR. To the contrary, THR decisively beats Deadline.com in the marketplace, its advertising revenues are up and its readership is growing exponentially. For July 2011, the independent measuring service comScore reported that THR’s website generated 4.39 million unique visitors in the U.S. Deadline.com had only 1.52 million unique visitors in the U.S. In fact, THR.com has beaten Deadline handily in traffic since July 2010. Over the last year, comScore shows that THR’s website traffic increased 131% year-over-year, growing more than 100% faster than Deadline.com. THR print advertising revenue is up 40% year-over-year. In its most recent issue, the print edition of THR featured 48 pages of ads, an impressive 50% of the book size.
There are other ways to attest to the financial health and marketplace success of THR. For example, far from making wholesale layoffs, THR has made strategic additions to its staff, not the least of which was the return of Lynne Segall to THR from Deadline.com.
For these and other reasons, Ms. Finke’s statements are not just inaccurate, unfair and destructive in a business sense – they also violate the law. They constitute, at a minimum, defamation, false advertising, and tortious interference.
THR demands that Ms. Finke immediately cease and desist from her pattern and practice of false statements, interference and harassment. THR reserves the right to take all steps necessary to protect its interests, without further notice to PMC.
Very truly yours,
Bruce P. Keller
cc: Ms. Nikki Finke (by email)
View scanned copy of letter on next page.