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Judge delays Televisa-Univision trial

Times Staff Writer

A federal judge agreed Monday to delay a much-anticipated trial that would pit one giant of Spanish-language television, Mexico’s Grupo Televisa, against another, Univision Communications Inc.

Televisa sued Univision three years ago, alleging breach of contract and unpaid royalties. The Mexico City-based company has been seeking to terminate its long-term programming agreement with Univision, the dominant Spanish-language media company in the U.S., long before their program pact expires in December 2017.

The trial, now scheduled for July 1, had been slated to begin today. On Monday, however, attorneys from both sides asked U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez to grant the delay, probably to give them time to engage in settlement talks.

Both companies declined to comment.

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Televisa produces the wildly popular telenovelas that fuel Univision’s gigantic prime-time ratings.

The company, controlled by Mexican media scion Emilio Azcarraga Jean, contends that Univision has not adequately compensated it for the popularity of its shows. It is, however, locked into a fee formula established by the programming agreement.

Televisa was a major shareholder of Univision until a year ago, when a group of private investors, including Los Angeles billionaire Haim Saban, took the company private in a highly leveraged $13.7-billion deal.

Losing its steady supply of Televisa telenovelas would leave Univision’s owners in the lurch. In a regulatory filing last month, Univision noted that that outcome would have a “material adverse effect on our results.”

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meg.james@latimes.com


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