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Televisa Sues Univision

The friction between Mexican broadcasting Grupo Televisa and U.S. "partner" Univision continues, with Televisa going  to court to secure the right to feed its programming over the Internet.

For 14 years, Univision has had exclusive U.S. television rights to programming Televisa – the worlds largest Spanish-language producer – makes for its own Mexican operation.

Televisa contends that under an amendment to the initial programming deal, both sides were prohibited from putting shows on the Internet until next December. After that, the broadcaster argues, the prohibition applies only to Univision.

A copy of the agreement filed in court clearly limits both sides to making only short clips of programs available widely on the Internet. Televisa was allowed to start a subscription service over the Internet, but only if Americans were prevented from signing up.

But once that five-year amendment expires in December, both sides revert to the terms of the original agreement signed in 1992. That agreement is silent on Internet rights, which is no surprise, since the Web was in its infancy.

The Mexican company has asked the Los Angeles County Superior Court for a declaratory judgment ratifying those rights. Univision disputes that contention, believing that neither side has U.S. Internet rights. "We strongly believe they’re wrong and will aggressively defend and prosecute our rights," a Univision spokeswoman says.

The suit comes after Mexico City-based Televisa – which owns 11% of Univision -- lost an auction for Univision. Instead, the company’s board accepted a $12.3-billion offer by a group of private equity funds led by billionaire media player Haim Saban.