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Judge Hears Univision-Televisa Skirmish

LOS ANGELES: A federal judge this week heard an argument between Univision and Televisa over the right to stream content on the Web. Univision, based in Los Angeles, runs Televisa telenovelas during prime time and wants the court to enjoin the Mexican media giant from make them available on the Web in the United States. Televisa has a programming deal with Univision that runs through 2017, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The deal was reached after Televisa tried to get out of a 25-year contract it signed in 1992 to provide its content exclusively to Univision, which it said owed Televisa $134 million in unpaid royalties, Hispanic Business said. Univision, struggling under a $10 billion debt, derives an estimated 35 percent of ad revenues from Televisa shows, the publication said, citing Fitch Ratings.

The current programming deal didn’t cover the Internet. Televisa streams freely in Mexico, but the content is easily had in the United States as well. The Times noted that telenovelas are among the most viewed material on YouTube. A total of 57,200 videos from shows that Univision airs were said to show up on YouTube last week, drawing more than 613 million views, the Times said. U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez will have to determine whether the programming agreement between the two media companies prohibits Televisa from streaming its telenovelas for users in the United States. 

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