Last week, a federal jury awarded British-based Celador International, Ltd. $269.4 million in damages after unanimously finding that Disney subsidiaries ABC Television, Buena Vista Television, and Valleycrest Productions, Ltd., had breached their contract with the company to share profits from the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
The lawsuit (Celador International, Ltd. v. Walt Disney Co.) was filed in 2004 after The Walt Disney Co. reported that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, created by Celador, never made a profit and generated more than $70 million in losses for the company, although the game show took ABC from No. 4 to No. 1 in network rankings. Celador licensed rights to the game show to ABC Television and Buena Vista Television as part of a deal in which Celador would get 50 percent of the profits from the show.
The nine-member jury, after deliberating for two and a half days, found that the defendants breached the implied “covenant of good faith and fair dealing” they owed to Celador.