The Source Magazine
has filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit against Black Entertainment Television
(BET) and two high-ranking executives with the company, alleging that the network
refused to air The Source Awards as stipulated in a signed agreement.
The magazine is also pursuing legal actions against Hot 97 and
Funkmaster Flex, stemming from comments the popular DJ made last week over the
The BET lawsuit was filed last Wednesday (Oct. 19) in New York
Supreme Court and alleges that BET’s EVP and CFO Scott Mills and EVP,
General Counsel and CAO Byron Marchand conspired to keep The Source Awards off
of the network, which is owned by Viacom.
"We had a contract With BET to televise the Source Awards
on Oct. 25," Source co-Founder Dave Mays told AllHipHop.com. "They
kept moving the date back and then ultimately took a position that they didn’t
want to put it on this year. They have a very clear contract to televise the
awards and we were put in a position to file our lawsuit."
The magazine has played host to the Source Awards for years
in Miami and Source co-founder Ray "Benzino" Scott said he believed
the network didn’t air The Source Awards due to a conflict of interest with
The BET Awards.
"We had the sixth most viewed show in the 25 years that
BET has been on the air," Scott said. "They just did an awards show.
Last year’s show was a success and now the next year they don’t want to do it?"
Representatives for BET didn’t comment on the lawsuit at press
time and were unaware of the looming litigation.
According to Mays and Scott, The Source Magazine enterprise
is also gearing up for other lawsuits, including one against Funkmaster Flex
where they will charge him with defamation of character and torturous interference
Furthermore, they plan to take on a class-action lawsuit in
conjunction with independent record labels, who feel the major labels are engaged
in monopolistic business practices.
"The power has been consolidated into the hands of a few
reckless, selfish executives, artists and radio people.
"We are heading into a time period when a lot of truth.
Hopefully there will be Congressional hearings to sort out the truth,”
Mays continued. “All we’ve done is report and speak the truth for the
Hip-Hop community and culture; we view ourselves as freedom fighters."
Funkmaster Flex took to the airwaves on New York’s Hot 97 last
week and berated the magazine for implicating him in a payola scandal in the
latest issue of The Source.
"New York is the Mecca of Hip-Hop and it has been screwed
up because of one radio station," Scott said. "Ever since Tracey [Cloherty]
and Flex took over, there’s only been a handful of New York people allowed access
to the public radio airwaves and everyone else suffers. Other markets show love
to each other. They screwed up a whole community of Hip-Hop and it’s sad. If
it wasn’t for the Southern Hip-Hop [scene] we would be f***ed up."
Mays and Scott also revealed that the next issue of The Source
would feature an expose on Funkmaster Flex, focusing on what they deemed questionable
"He’s mad because he’s been exposed," Scott claimed.
"Flex has been using the airwaves to pump his car show, artists he’s involved
with. People talk about my ads being in The Source, but no one questions how
they are abusing the airwaves that belong to the pubic."
While he has publicly expressed his feeling about The Source,
Funkmaster Flex was unavailable for comment.
The magazine owners also responded to rumors swirling about
their financial status and criticism over their latest issue, which features
50 Cent’s G-Unit crew with the captions "G-UNOT: Is Corporate Rap’s Top
Unit Fading Fast?"
While they admitted the company was downsizing, they said their
magazine was healthy.
"The Source is still the No. 1 Hip-Hop magazine,"
Mays noted. "The whole industry is suffering. Look at the amount of record
labels and clothing companies that are struggling. We are simply restructuring
The magazine will relocate from their present 23,000 square
foot W. 23rd Street office to an office approximately 13,000 square feet.
"We are practicing smart business," Scott continued.
"The rumors that people hear are simply the propaganda machine and writings
from ex-writers. Everyone has to remember that a lot of these writers and critics
are former employees of The Source."
The owners were confident in their course of legal action as
well, emboldened by their settlement with Hip-Hopper Eminem.
"The first lawsuit we were involved in is when Eminem sued
us and we won," Mays said. "Two years, we won; he lost, plain and
simple. They had to pay our lawyers fee. We have a good track record in the
legal arena and we know what our boundaries are and what they aren’t. We are
about to enter into a period of serious legal activity."
As for their controversial November issue with a report on the
G-Unit Crew, Mays and Scott stood by their defense that they are simply covering
the state of Hip-Hop.
no question 50 cent is talented," Scott continued. "But what they’ve
perpetrated in the past few years and what he’s done to get there and how he
tries to hurt people’s careers has to be stopped. We didn’t print any lies.
We didn’t sensationalize anything. But it’s how they got there. We all have
children. Do I want my child to think that glorifying violence is how you have
to come up? We have a moral responsibility to our people and the culture because
it’s saved our lives."