Judge: Televisa-Univision show must go on

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MEXICO CITY -- Mexican broadcaster Televisa has earned an early U.S. court victory, keeping alive it's bid to terminate a long-term program license agreement with U.S. partner Univision.

In a company statement released Friday, Mexico's top network said that a U.S. district judge in Los Angeles has denied a motion by Univision to dismiss part of a Televisa lawsuit claiming breach of contract. Judge Phillip S. Gutierrez ruled there was sufficient evidence to go ahead with a trial, which is set for March 18.

Televisa is looking to sever its program license agreement with Univision, which runs through 2017. It also is seeking more than $100 million in damages for unpaid royalties.

"The goal of this litigation and Televisa is to terminate the PLA," said Marshall Grossman of Bingham McCutchen, the Santa Monica law firm representing Televisa. "We are now significantly closer to that objective based upon the court's decision."

The long-running legal dispute between the Spanish-language media titans has major implications for Univision, whose networks rely heavily on Televisa content for their primetime programming. Over the years, Televisa's popular soaps have been a strong ratings draw for Univision.

Univision sees the judge's decision as a preliminary ruling that simply permits the dispute to go to trial.

"We remain confident in our position and that Univision will prevail when we have the opportunity to present our case," a Univision spokesperson said.

The soured relationship between the two companies turned uglier last year when a Televisa consortium lost a bid to purchase Univision.
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