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.


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