The jury in the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? lawsuit returned a verdict for UK-based Celador today finding that the show’s producer was harmed by Disney’s self-dealing actions. The panel awarded damages totalling $269.2 million for the fair market value of broadcast licensing fees, and revenue from Millionaire merchandise. That just shy of the $405M which Celador was seeking. Immediately, the Walt Disney Company issued this statement: “We believe this verdict is fundamentally wrong and will aggressively seek to have it reversed.” The month-long Riverside trial followed six years of legal maneuvering over profits from the hit game show in a rare look into TV network and studio accounting practices. Celador convinced the jury that the producer earned millions of dollars less than it could have from the success of the show because Disney-owned ABC and co-producer Buena Vista TV brokered sweetheart deals with themselves.
After a 6 year legal maneuvering and a month-long trial, the $250 million case of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? producer Celador v. Disney over profits from the hit game show is now in the hands of the jury. Throughout the parade of witnesses, Celador seemed to prove that it earned less than it could have from the success of the show on ABC. The question is whether it was able to convince the jurors that it was the result of Disney-owned ABC and co-producer Buena Vista TV brokering sweetheart deals among themselves, thus allegedly cheating Celador out of millions — and not because it just made a bad deal.