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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Judge to view Jerry Springer show
Jerry Springer
The Jerry Springer Show first aired in the US 1991
A High Court judge will have to watch episodes of the Jerry Springer Show to settle a dispute between the show's makers and its British distributors.

Flextech Television cancelled its deal with Universal Studios to air the programme in the UK in 2002, saying it had become too controversial.

Universal disagrees, and wants payment for the full run of the series.

A Court of Appeal judge has ordered a Commercial High Court trial to resolve the dispute.

Flextech, which provides 10 cable channels to NTL and Telewest, entered into a contract in 1998 which committed it to the Jerry Springer Show as long it was running in the US.

'Unsuitable viewing'

In 2002, the company's solicitors wrote to Universal saying the show had changed significantly, despite an agreement that it would remain substantially similar to earlier series.

Flextech contends the programme became unsuitable for daytime viewing and was in breach of UK broadcasting regulations.

Universal insists the content of the programme has not changed, and that Flextech are in breach of its contract.

It wants payments for the unaired programmes, which could amount to millions of pounds.

In his ruling, Lord Justice David Neuberger said the fact that several episodes were unsuitable for broadcast did not decide whether there had been a breach of contract.

He said it was up to a trial judge to decide whether there had been a change of content sufficient to cause a breach.

This will involve a side-by-side comparison of episodes from different series of the programme.

Lawyers involved in the case said the episodes in question ran for more than 400 hours, but the trial would be presented with a tape of edited highlights.


The Jerry Springer Show began in 1991 as a politically-orientated discussion programme.

However, it received low ratings and the producers decided to take the show in a more controversial direction.

David Soul in Jerry Springer - The Opera
The Jerry Springer opera featured Jesus as a guest on the TV show
Subsequent programme titles included I Cut Off My Manhood and I Married a Horse.

The show frequently features ill-tempered stand-offs between guests, which often deteriorate into fisticuffs.

It has been attacked on both sides of the Atlantic for being crude and exploitative.

However, it has made a household name of its host, the 62-year-old Jerry Springer.

The show has even inspired an opera, which has been criticised by Christians for being offensive and blasphemous.

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