Suit claims network hurt band's album sales.

Rock act Motley Crue filed suit yesterday (May 24) against NBC, arguing the network violated the group's free speech rights and hurt its concert and album sales. Motley Crue say its action is in response to NBC's decision to ban the act from the network after lead singer Vince Neil swore on a Dec. 31, 2004, live broadcast of "The Tonight Show."

The lawsuit, filed yesterday (May 24) in the U.S. district court in Los Angeles, claims NBC banned the act in an effort to avoid sanctions from the Federal Communications Commission. The suit alleges NBC cancelled Motley Crue's appearance on "Last Call with Carson Daly" following "The Tonight Show" incident, and the lack of media exposure from that cancellation and resulting impact hurt album sales.

Additionally, the group claims NBC's decision "interfered with the band's ability to secure optimal concert bookings, sponsorships and co-branding relationships." Motley Crue's two-CD retrospective "Red White & Crue" (Hip-O/Motley/UME) debuted at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 in February and has sold more than 394,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The suit alleges Motley Crue prepared to issue a press release apologizing for Neil's use of the "f-word," but claims NBC blocked the release. The band says Neil was "caught in the exuberance of the moment" when he wished bandmate Tommy Lee a "happy f***ing New Year." Furthermore, Motley Crue claims it is being used as a "scapegoat," as court papers say NBC has not banned John Mayer or System of a Down's Daron Malakian for using similar foul language on the network. Motley Crue is seeking a lift of the ban and punitive damages to be determined by the court.

NBC could not be reached for comment.