Freelance journalist Dominic Patten is covering the trial for Deadline.
This afternoon’s prolonged testimony in Day 7 of the trial over disputed TV rights to the Golden Globes telecast consisted of what an exasperated Judge A. Howard Matz described as opposing attorneys “going around in a lot of circles.” Under questioning from both sides, expert witness David Tenzer testified “Not everything gets documented exactly as it should” in the TV business. Stating the obvious, he said Dick Clark Productions believes “they have greater rights and longer rights” than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association thinks they do. Tenzer, a former CAA business affairs executive, is testifying on behalf of HFPA.
“In my twenty-seven years in television,” Tenzer wrote in his report on the case, “I can recall no contract between a producer or network, on the one hand, and a rights holder, on the other, in an arms-length relationship that granted perpetual options to broadcast a recurring event, either unconditionally or for as long as the network wanted.” Tenzer rejected the defendants’ lawyer’s contention that such perpetual rights do exist in other DCP produced shows such as the Academy of Country Music Awards, American Music Awards and New Years Rockin’ Eve. None of them, Tenzer assserted on the stand, meets the vital “arms length” standard because they are essentially DCP created and produced shows and do not involve a third party as is the case with the HFPA and the Globes.
The contested amendment gives DCP the right to produce and license the Globes past 1997 for “Eight (8) additional, consecutive, exclusive and irrevocable options to acquire the exclusive right to produce a live television broadcast for each of the years 1998 through and including 2005, and for any extensions, renewals, substitutions or modifications of the NBC agreement.”
“When you grant a right you use the word “grant” or “assign,” said Tenzer, citing the last 12 words of the 1993 amendment. “One of my problems with the so-called extensions clause is there no verb or object — it’s just hanging there.” Judge Matz questioned the former CAA exec’s interpretation of the weakness of the wording of the amendment. “Doesn’t the word ‘and’ constitute reference to what preceded?” said Matz. “It is ambiguous to me,” Tenzer replied. “Rights that valuable would be granted in an explicated way.”
The trial continues tomorrow.