The trial in U.S. District Court to decide who will determine the Golden Globes’ broadcast future got under way in downtown Los Angeles with both sides honing in on the meaning of a disputed clause in a decades old contract.

   The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which sponsors the Globes, is suing its partner, Dick Clark Productions, claiming that DCP negotiated an extension of NBC’s rights to broadcast the show behind the HFPA’s back. DCP contents that its long-standing contract to produce the Golden Globes includes a perpetuity clause that gives it control so long as NBC continues to air the show. The company recently concluded a $150-million contract extension with NBC. The HFPA contends that a better deal might have been struck with CBS, whose CEO Les Moonves is expected to testify that he hoped to bid on the show.

In his opening statement and subsequent questioning of an early witness, HFPA attorney Daniel Petrocelli attempted to establish that in the agreement’s earliest phase, both sides behaved as if HFPA members were required to approve any new contract. No such action was taken to grant DCP the right to renew the contract with NBC indefinitely, Petrocelli said.  “It defies common sense,” he told the judge. DCP lawyer Marty Katz countered that the press group simply had become disenchanted with his client’s new management after the production company was sold. He said “they got their noses out of joint” and decided they didn’t like the 50-50 split in revenues from the broadcast that was previously negotiated.