Disney loses ‘Millionaire’ verdict

Jury sides with Celador in profit dispute

A federal jury in Riverside has ordered Disney to pay nearly $270 million to Brit production company Celador in its lawsuit against Disney stemming from a dispute over profits from gameshow “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

The verdict awards Celador $260.2 million related to license fees and another $9.2 million in coin related to merchandising of the gameshow.

Decision comes after a four-week trial that revolved around the Mouse’s accounting practices and whether Disney deliberately paid below-market value for the show because it controlled the production and exhibition of the property. “Millionaire” was a mammoth hit for ABC in 1999 and 2000 and has aired in first-run syndication, distribbed by Disney, since 2002.

Celador and exec Paul Smith developed the original Brit version of the gameshow and retains the format rights outside North America.

“We believe this verdict is fundamentally wrong and will aggressively seek to have it reversed,” Disney said in a statement.

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