Boxing Reality Shows Duck Regulations

Two upcoming reality boxing shows locked in a court battle are united in ducking out of a California rule requiring promoters to immediately disclose bout results to the public.

Both Fox's "The Next Great Champ" (search) and NBC's "The Contender" (search) got exemptions from the regulation, which is intended to allow competitors full knowledge of their opponent's record, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Show producers and boxing regulators said the change was needed to retain the element of surprise key to reality television.

Sanford Michelman, who was chairman of the California Athletic Commission (search) when the exemption was granted, said boosted state revenue and increased exposure for boxing made the trade-off worthwhile.

"This is where Hollywood and boxing cross paths," Michelman said.

He said it was the first such public disclosure exemption ever granted by the panel. "The whole reason is to protect the results of the show," he said.

The two shows also paid the state lower-than-normal taxes per broadcast of each bout. Representatives of "Champ" and "Contender" said they should not pay fees for the full length of each episode, but only on the portion of each show dedicated to boxing matches, which was only a few minutes.

Both shows have been battling one another in court as a judge last week denied a request from producers of "The Contender" for a temporary restraining order against the Fox reality series produced by boxer Oscar De La Hoya and Endemol USA.

DreamWorks SKG and reality mogul Mark Burnett (search), makers of "The Contender," are trying to force Fox to edit allegedly unlawful bouts out of "The Next Great Champ" before it airs Sept. 10 and claims their challenger ripped off their concept.

Patty Glaser, a lawyer representing "Champ" producer Endemol USA, confirmed that the producers had received permission to modify the public-disclosure requirements.

DreamWorks spokesman Andy Spahn said that "Contender" also got the go-ahead from the athletic commission and the attorney general in late July to keep its bout results secret.

Michelman said that commissioners agreed to delay the reporting requirements partly because they were concerned that the TV producers might shoot their productions in other states if their conditions were not met.

University of San Diego law professor Robert Fellmeth, a boxing commissioner from 1976 to 1981, said officials inappropriately carved out a legal exemption for the Hollywood producers.

"This whole state is excessively star-struck," Fellmeth said. The main rationale of the boxing laws is to ensure that "matches are fair and the public is monitoring them, (and) that money does not unduly influence" the sport, he added. "Hollywood stardust does not trump the law."

The athletic commission, a unit of the state Department of Consumer Affairs, has regulated boxing in California since a voter initiative in 1924. The commission typically has seven members, but due to term expirations and a lack of recent appointments by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger there are currently only four commissioners.