Singer claims career suffered after broadcast of DVD

Tommy Fleming says unauthorised broadcast of ‘Voice of Hope’ financially damaging

Tommy Fleming

Tommy Fleming

 

Singer Tommy Fleming has told the High Court his career suffered after a television company broadcast his bestselling DVD “Voice of Hope” without his permission.

Mr Fleming is seeking damages and injunctions over breach of his copyright in proceedings against Teilifís Mhaigh Eo Teoranta, trading as “Irish TV”, which went into liquidation last December.

The company, which operated from Westport Industrial Park and broadcast a 24-hour channel on Sky, Eir and free-to-air services, did not contest the application. It concluded on Wednesday before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan who said he will give his decision within days.

The case arose after the station in December 2014 broadcast a promotional DVD sent out by the singer in relation to his 2004 recording “Voice of Hope” under the title “Tommy Fleming Musical Extravaganza”.

The station, in correspondence before its liquidation, said it believed it had permission to broadcast the show.

In his evidence, Mr Fleming said his career had been damaged by the broadcast. He told his counsel Helen Johnson he attended the launch of the station but never gave it permission to broadcast “Voice of Hope”. He learned about the broadcast from a friend and would never have used the term “extravaganza” in relation to his work as he considered that meant “circus”.

While accepting he, his wife and their company may not get much out of any damages award against a firm in liquidation, he had to proceed with his action because the case centred around their work.

Since the broadcast, the singer had also only made one appearance on RTÉ’s 'Late Late Show'

His wife and manager, Tina Mitchel Fleming, said he has had to spend a lot more money on promotions and advertising since the broadcast and there was also a drop in sales of the “Voice of Hope”, the production costs of which were €250,000. It would cost the same to do a new show, she added.

Low ratings

Because the “Voice of Hope” was broadcast on a small channel with low ratings, that damaged the ability to get on to major broadcasters, she said.

Before this broadcast, they had been in talks with SkyArts but those ended after the broadcast, she said. Since the broadcast, the singer had also only made one appearance on RTÉ’s Late Late Show, whereas beforehand he had appeared on the national broadcaster about twice a year.

Because Irish TV had connections with US broadcaster PBS, her husband had to pay that channel if they wanted to get his material on its channels which was not the case beforehand, she said.

After the broadcast, her husband, for the first time in his career, made a loss when he toured North America, she added.

The Flemings and their company TF Productions Ltd also want the court to make permanent injunctions previously obtained against Teilifís Mhaigh Eo restraining Irish TV passing off the “Voice of Hope” DVD under the title “Tommy Fleming Musical Extravaganza” or any similar trademark, making the DVD available to the public without authorisation or broadcasting it in breach of Mr Fleming’s copyright.