Tiso Blackstar in legal battle over radio awards

Ex-CEO accused of ‘stealing’ R6.8m Liberty sponsorship

A fierce legal dispute has ensued between Tiso Blackstar (now Arena Holdings) and the SA Radio Awards’ ex- CEO, Lance Rothschild and his company over the withdrawal of Liberty Group’s R6.8-million sponsorship.

Tiso Blackstar, the owners of the radio awards, issued summons against Rothschild and his company, Southern African Radio Awards, arguing that he had undeclared meetings with its title sponsor Liberty Group, which led to their withdrawal from sponsoring the awards for next year.

Liberty Group has been the title sponsor for the radio awards for the past three years.

However, according to court papers, the insurance company cut ties with the SA Radio Awards owned by Tiso Blackstar, citing the dispute between the media group and Rothschild over the ownership of the awards.

In its papers, Tiso Blackstar accused Rothschild of approaching several companies using its name to try to secure sponsorship for awards similar to its concept.

However, Tiso Blackstar claims that while the Liberty Group committed itself to renew its sponsorship to the tune of R6.8-million in a meeting dated July 16, Rothschild kept the information to himself.

The company said Rothschild and the Southern African Radio Awards were obliged to identify and train a successor to Rothschild for the SA Radio Awards but did not do so.

It claims this failure or refusal cost the SA Radio Awards the Liberty sponsorship.

“As a result, the 2020 SA Radio Awards will be conducted without the income which would have been realised from a title sponsorship,” said Tiso Blackstar.

It also accused Rothschild of copyright infringement. The company said Rothschild’s trademarks resemble their trademark.

Tiso Blackstar asked for a court order interdicting Rothschild or his company from using their trademarks and that he must also pay an amount of R6.8-million in damages.

Rothschild confirmed that he was served with urgent court papers by Tiso Blackstar in October, but said the application had no legal basis.

He said he intends to hit Tiso Blackstar with a counter-claim.

Rothschild further said that Tiso had taken him to court because they did not want him to run his new awards, Lalela Radio Awards.

He dismissed Tiso’s claims that he robbed it of the Liberty sponsorship, stating that he was the one who brought them the sponsorship in the first place.

He also said he never refused to train his successor, and he laid the blame on Tiso’s door, arguing that it did not put money on the table to fund the training.
Tiso Blackstar legal representative Zanele Ngakane of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Attorneys said “Mr Rothschild’s contract with Arena Holdings and The Radio Awards was not renewed, and he will not be involved further.

The Radio Awards was required to take legal action against Mr Rothschild and his newly established companies to protect the interests of The Radio
Awards and Arena Holdings.”

She said the Radio Awards will still continue next year despite their challenge to secure another sponsorship to replace Liberty Group who withdrew.

By Aubrey Mothombeni

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