The lawsuit over profits from "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" threatens the foundation of many media mergers, which has benefited corporate owners by placing program production with program distribution under the same roof, reports the Los Angeles Times.
There have been similar contract disputes in the past, where a show’s creator sues a studio or network with the claim it was cheated out of profits, but few have ended up in court, the story says.
With a change in "financial interest and syndication rules," producers and networks could suddenly be working together, rather than on opposite sides of the bargaining table with producers seeking the highest possible fee for a show.
Walt Disney Co., which is being sued by "Millionaire" creator Celador International, says it’s adhered to the contract, giving Celador more than $21 million in executive producer fees. An attorney for Celador has charged the network is playing a shell game, the article says.
While losing the trial wouldn’t likely be fiscally material to Disney, "it would set a bad precedent for all large entertainment companies, because they’re all vertically integrated," said Laura Martin, senior media analyst for Needham & Co. "It would encourage lawsuits."