Walt Disney Co. Urges Court of Appeal to Overturn $319 Million ‘Millionaire’ Verdict

The Walt Disney Company legal eagles showed up in full force on Wednesday seeking to overturn a $319 million dollar judgement over profits from the ABC hit TV show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

The Disney lawyers contend that the 2010 jury verdict was caused because of an improper reading of a 1999 contract with the UK-based Celador (who gave ABC and Buena Vista of North America the rights to the program). Disney claims the jury improperly awarded Celador a share of revenue generated by ABC when they were only entitled to 50%.  They are seeking a new trial on the issue of contract interpretation.

Celador argues back that the jury was correct because they found that Disney had engaged in self-dealing transactions to keep ad revenue for ABC without sister company Buena Vista earning a profit which in turn they would have to share with Celador in accordance to the agreement.

Millionaire, hosted by Regis Philbin was a huge hit on ABC from 1999 to 2002, airing as often as 4 or 5 nights a week.  A syndicated version of the show still airs in many markets.


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