The judge had to determine whether a 1993 agreement between the HFPA and dcp gave the production company the right to work on the show perpetually, provided it airs on NBC. The association contended it never agreed to the perpetuity clause, and that if it were upheld it would the HFPA control over its signature property, the Globes.
Attorneys for dcp argued that the clause was to ensure continuity and protect the production company, which had just negotiated a multi-year deal to return the Globes to broadcast airwaves for the first time since a scandal knocked them from CBS in the early 1980s.
Matz noted the contrast between the production company and the journalists' group in his ruling.
"In contrast, dcp acted in a consistently business-like fashion, and for almost all of the 27 year relationship it had with HFPA before this suit was filed dcp was represented by one experienced executive who was adept at dealing fairly and effectively with the often amateurish conduct of HFPA," he wrote.
The disputed deal is worth $150 million, but the association contends the broadcast rights are worth much more now. The show, while not a reliable predictor of Oscar night glory, attracts the top stars from both television and film and attracts millions of viewers each year. The booze-filled gala is more unpredictable and less staid than other major reality shows, which has only been amplified by host Ricky Gervais in recent years.
Matz noted that the agreement between the HFPA and dcp — and his ruling — tie the two groups together as long as the show remains on NBC. If the network drops the show, the production company's rights to work on the gala would also end.
Shapiro said that despite the trial and the cloud of uncertainty it has cast over the Globes, dcp has a strong relationship with NBC that includes several other shows.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP .