Judge rejects Kirch suit

Group claimed U didn't keep up deal

A judge in Los Angeles Superior Court has thrown out an unprecedented lawsuit brought by Germany’s powerful Kirch Group against Universal.

In its suit, filed last December, Kirch maintained that a megabuck output deal inked by the two parties in 1996 should be voided because the Hollywood studio did not live up to its side of the bargain. Specifically, Kirch claimed that the studio did not deliver the number or quality of movies that are traditionally part of long-term output deals.

Universal vigorously denied any culpability and filed a countersuit against Kirch. Output deal is worth some $100 million a year.

The tiff rattled the normally civil international TV biz, long touted as being relationship-driven. It also indicated just how touchy the studio practice of splitting rights on feature films is becoming, as foreign clients feel they are no longer getting all the films they thought were under output deals.

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