US network ABC accused of exploitation over Michael Jackson show

US broadcast network ABC says The Last Days of Michael Jackson will feature never-before-seen interview footage. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/MICHAEL JACKSON

CHICAGO (AFP) - Michael Jackson's estate has slammed an upcoming television special about the late King of Pop, describing it Wednesday (May 23) as a "crass and unauthorised" effort to exploit the singer's name.

US broadcast network ABC says The Last Days Of Michael Jackson will feature never-before-seen interview footage and the testimony of a tour operator who was outside his mansion in southern California the day he died.

The Jackson estate issued a statement saying the special, scheduled to air Thursday, "is not sponsored or approved by the estate" of the pop sensation, who died in 2009.

Disney-owned ABC, which has not responded, is accused of unauthorised use of a copyrighted photo and silhouette image in trailers and promotional materials, but those items have since been removed from the program.

"We are told ABC intends to use music and other intellectual property owned by the estate such as photos, logos, artwork and more in the program itself, without having licensed the rights to any such material," the statement said.

"Imagine if this was done with any of ABC's intellectual property. We believe the special to be another crass and unauthorised attempt to exploit the life, music and image of Michael Jackson without respect for Michael's legacy, intellectual property rights or his children."

Jackson is estimated to have sold 350 million records, including Thriller, the best-selling album of all time.

He amassed 13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one solo singles in the United States and became the first artist in history to have a top ten single in the Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades.

He was 50 when he died on June 25, 2009, while he was in the Los Angeles area practising for a planned series of concerts in London entitled This Is It. The cause was given as an overdose of the anaesthetic propofol. His personal doctor, Conrad Murray, was convicted in 2011 for administering the fatal dose of medication to Jackson.

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