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HFPA Settles Golden Globes Lawsuit With Dick Clark Prods.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has reached a settlement with Dick Clark Prods. after nearly four years of litigation over the rights to the Golden Globe Awards.

The exact terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Both sides had been awaiting word from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the HFPA had been seeking to overturn a lower court ruling in favor of DCP.

NBC has the rights to the Golden Globes through 2018, in an agreement the Dick Clark Prods. reached with the Peacock in 2010.

But the HFPA challenged Dick Clark Prods.’ contractual authority to do so, and filed suit against its longtime producer in 2010. Dick Clark Prods. contended that it could continue producing the show as long as it reached a broadcast deal with NBC, under a clause of a 1993 agreement that seemingly gave DCP rights to produce the show in perpetuity.

Under the terms of the settlement, the HFPA now will have a level of approval over network rights, and there also will be some finality to its agreement with DCP, sources said.

The agreement with NBC for the rights to the show through 2018 will remain in place, but the decision opens up the possibility of another network landing the show after that. The Peacock will still have the right of first negotiation, but otherwise the show can be shopped, sources said. NBC is paying an average of $21.5 million a year for the rights, but during the trial it was revealed that CBS was willing to pay $25 million or even up to $30 million for the rights.

Peter Guber, chairman of DCP, and Allen Shapiro, its CEO, said in a statement, “We regret that the relationship between Dick Clark Prods. and the HFPA deteriorated to the point that litigation ensued, but our focus now if on the future.”

A spokesman for the HFPA said the members “look forward to working together to continue to maximize opportunities for the Golden Globes and expand the brand with unique and exciting entertainment experiences.” The HFPA’s president, Theo Kingma, said, “We also look forward to a successful and amicable relationship, ensuring that the Golden Globe Awards will remain Hollywood’s celebration of the year.”

A motion for dismissal was filed on Monday morning with the 9th Circuit, with both sides agreeing to carry attorneys’ costs.

A 2012 trial over the rights to the show saw a parade of HFPA officials and Dick Clark Prods. executives testify to what had dissolved into a strained relationship between the press association and its producer. Much of the testimony centered on the nature of a 1993 agreement reached after Dick Clark Prods. landed a deal with NBC to return the ceremony to broadcast TV for the first time in more than a decade.

But U.S. District Judge Howard Matz delivered a decisive ruling in favor of Dick Clark Prods., concluding that the “plain meaning and extrinsic evidence” supported the producer’s interpretation of the 1993 agreement. Its parent company, Red Zone Capital, controlled by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, sold DCP to Guggenheim Partners in September 2012, but the litigation continued. The HFPA appealed the case to the 9th Circuit, which held oral arguments before a three judge panel in June, but no decision was issued.

 

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