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The association points to discussions about the initial NBC broadcast deal in 1993, in which dcp executives asked for an extension to work on the show for up to 10 years, as evidence that a perpetual deal with the production company was never contemplated. Allowing dcp to negotiate rights to the show and work on it indefinitely as long as it aired on NBC would give producers an incentive to only deal with that network as opposed to seeking the best deal, and result in a loss of the association’s control over the Globes, HFPA lawyers have argued.

The production company claims the HFPA has known for years about the arrangement and cites instances in which the association’s leaders have called it a “major irritant” but acknowledged that a “perpetuity clause” was in place. The clause was also put in place because of the association’s credibility problems, dcp attorneys argue.

“The quid pro quo is that HFPA is contractually bound not to pull the rug out from under dcp in the middle of the most successful television run in the Golden Globes’ history,” the production company’s attorneys wrote in a brief in advance of the trial.

Matz said it was clear that a trial is necessary to sort out the parties’ rights, but he urged them to focus on events in 1993 and later years. “There is an ambiguity and that’s why we’re going to trial,” Matz said Monday.

Regardless of the winner, the overall feel of the Globes is unlikely to change. Transcripts of minutes from membership meetings throughout the year show HFPA members are committed to the Globes’ banquet-style format, which features open-consumption of alcohol and a more-relaxed setting than most other awards shows.

While the Globes aren’t necessarily a reliable predictor of who will win weeks later on Oscar night, the show has a knack for creating buzz.

What’s worn on the red carpet and said on the winner’s stage often dominates the next day’s headlines, and each summer the group doles out grants to non-profit and educational institutions. Last year they donated $1.5 million in a star-studded luncheon and have doled out $13 million in grants in the past 17 years.

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Follow Anthony McCartney at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP