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Fox Buries Hatchet With TheStreet.com

Fox News Channel announced plans to call off the legal beagles in its contentious dispute with TheStreet.com and co-founder Jimmy Cramer over the abrupt cancellation of the pair's co-branded Saturday morning TheStreet.com financial news television show that previously ran on Fox. Under terms of the settlement, TheStreet.com has agreed not to produce a similar show for a competing network until mid-2001.

The upstart financial commentary Web site will also make a $10,000 donation to the Eric Breindel Foundation, named for the New York Post conservative columnist who passed away two years ago. The Big Apple rag is owned by Fox's parent company News Corp. . Cramer, who was originally slated to make numerous on-air appearances to promote the co-branded TV segment, will still be obligated to guest star at least 16 times. Although, Wall Street's colorful play-by-play announcer is free to shop his wares to rival networks - namely CNBC and CNNfn.

Cramer issued a brief statement sugar-coating the settlement agreement in which he mused, "I am pleased with the settlement, which validates Fox News' legitimate interests in enforcing its contractual rights, while allowing me to appear on other business news programs." That's a departure from Cramer's earlier saber-rattling in which he promised never to show his face again on the Fox News network.

Back in May, Cramer boldly promoted TheStreet.com's stock to the show's viewing audience, a decision many criticized as unprofessional and an obvious conflict of interest. At a time when online financial stocks were taking a beating from investors, Cramer shamelessly proclaimed the stock to be a "good buy." Not-coincidentally, the hedge fund manager was the company's largest shareholder at the time.

Fox publicly criticized the inappropriate move in the press, and TheStreet.com's own editor-in-chief echoed that sentiment in a statement posted to the firm's Web site. Cramer, in his usual bravado style, slammed the network for its disparaging comments and vowed to cancel the show altogether. Fox countered by threatening to slap its one-time e-partner with a breach of contract lawsuit.

Facing an expensive legal dogfight with a deep-pocketed opponent, there's little doubt that TheStreet.com's anemic share price and softening cash position left the company with little choice but to settle the dispute out of court. TheStreet.com has been busy moving much of its financial content to an ad-supported business model after a longstanding pay-per-view model. Citing a slowdown in ad sales, the company issued a profit warning just last month, proving the transition hasn't come without its share of growing pains.

Any questions or comments, love letters or hate mail? As always, feel free to forward them to kblack@internet.com.

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