Lifetime joins 'Runway' row

Network files suit against NBC Universal, Bravo Media

Lifetime TV has officially joined the legal fracas over the rights to "Project Runway."

On Tuesday, the network filed suit in Manhattan federal court against NBC Universal and Bravo Media, claiming Lifetime holds the copyrights to the high-rated reality TV show through its deal this year with the show's producer, the Weinstein Co.

The lawsuit comes after NBCU and Bravo, which aired the first five cycles of the show, filed suit in New York state court against TWC for breach of contract, claiming the producer failed to honor the network's right of first refusal for the sale or transfer of "Runway's" rights.

Lifetime also lists TWC as a "nominal defendant" because of the producer's agreement with the network. In court papers, Lifetime asserts its deal with TWC was contingent on having "Runway" "free and clear of any third-party obligations" and that the production company represented that the program was available to air on Lifetime beginning in November.

An injunction issued through the state court action by NBCU is in place, stopping the show from airing on either cable network.

Lifetime states it paid a $20 million advance to TWC for "Runway" and has expended resources and money to launch the next cycle of the show, including committing to advertisers and viewers. The show, it claims, is ready to air in December, with all but two episodes filmed for the sixth cycle.

Lifetime asked the court to enjoin NBCU from promoting, marketing and airing any new episodes and seeks a judgment finding it has priority over any conflicting rights to the show and any future episodes.