Univision, Televisa Postpone Trial Date

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The highly anticipated trial between Univision and programming partner and supplier Grupo Televisa has been postponed until July 1 at the request of both parties. The showdown was scheduled to kick off April 29 in a California federal court, and revolves around a 3-year-old lawsuit between the parties.

In a statement released days before the April 29 court date, Univision said: “We are confident that the facts are on our side and that Univision will prevail at trial once we present our case.”

Televisa, for its part, has declined comment, but according to its original lawsuit, it has sought to terminate the 1992 Program License Agreement (PLA) which gives Univision the exclusive rights to air Televisa shows in the United States until 2017.

Television analysts have estimated Univision could lose up to $1 billion in value if it were to lose content from Televisa, which provides the Spanish-language network with most of its primetime shows, including telenovelas, which consistently provide Univision with blockbuster ratings.

On April 28, the debut of Televisa’s Fuego en la Sangre gave Univision record-breaking audience figures, beating its previous record and pulling in 5.3 million total viewers 2 and older during the 9 pm time slot, and 3.1 million among the coveted 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Televisa is fighting to end the PLA so it can move on to offer its programming to the best bidder. Univision, on the other hand, is fiercely resisting the move by pulling all its legal resources and focusing on showing the jury that there never was a “material breach” of the contract, as Televisa has claimed. A long list of witnesses from both parties had been scheduled to testify in court, among these Univision’s chief operating officer Ray Rodríguez and Grupo Televisa CEO Emilio Azcárraga-Jean.

But press reports in Mexico this week indicated that the parties are considering an out-of-court settlement, with Televisa mulling the acquisition of a stake in Univision. Grupo Televisa sold the 11% it held on Univision after losing a bidding war for the U.S. Spanish-language network in 2006.

It is not yet clear if the parties will reach a settlement before July 1. But in the meantime, Univision is gearing up for its upfront presentation on May 14, in which it is expected to herald yet more blockbuster programming from Grupo Televisa.

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