News Column

Univision, Televisa Clash in Court Over Internet Broadcasting of Shows

June 9, 2009


univision, televisa, court battle

In Mexico, Internet users are able to watch popular soap operas such as "Cuidado con el Angel" ("Don't Mess With the Angel") on the Web site of Spanish-language media giant Televisa. But in the United States, they can't do so.

That could all change if a federal judge rules in favor of Televisa today in a courtroom brawl pitting the company against the other Spanish-language media titan, Univision.

The case marks the second time the two media companies have been to court this year.

The disputes have centered on an agreement in 1992, in which Televisa agreed to produce shows to be aired exclusively on Univision's networks.

About a year ago, Televisa sought to break off from that contract, saying it was owed $134 million in unpaid royalties. This would have dealt a major blow to Univision's TV ad revenue, as Televisa generated roughly 35 percent of it, according to Fitch Ratings, an independent credit ratings industry. In February, the companies were able to settle out of court; the contract expires in 2017.

However, the negotiators in the out-of-court settlement set aside the issue of the Internet. Now, U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez must decide whether the exclusivity of the 1992 agreement prohibits Televisa from streaming its telenovelas for users in the United States.

In Mexico, Televisa is able to not only stream the shows on its Web site, but also air them on its own network.. In the United States, visitors to the Televisa Web site are directed to a version that does not include the shows, according to the LA Times. That's because the company is waiting to stream the shows in the United States until the judge issues a ruling on the case.

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