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Disney loses appeal of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" ruling

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Walt Disney Co. was ordered to pay the British creator of the television game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" $319 million after a Los Angeles court rejected the company's request for a new trial.

Britain's Celador International, which created the quiz show, sued Disney in 2004 alleging that the company hid some of the show's U.S. profits from Celador.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena ruled on Monday that the lower court's judgment was neither excessive nor based on speculation of profits owed.

A 2010 jury trial found that Disney and its domestic syndication company, Buena Vista Television, owed Celador $269.2 million and a federal judge added $50 million in interest.

"We are extremely disappointed with the decision, as ABC and Buena Vista Television continue to believe that they fully adhered to the 'Millionaire' agreement," Walt Disney said in a statement on Tuesday.

Disney did not comment on further possible legal action.

"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" aired on Disney-owned broadcaster ABC from 1999 to 2002 and was credited with ushering in a new era of reality programming on U.S. television.

"I am pleased that justice has been done," Celador Chairman Paul Smith said in a statement.

The game show, which started in Britain and later became an international hit, quizzes contestants on trivia for the top prize of $1 million. The show is now in U.S. syndication.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey, editing by Jill Serjeant)

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