Reality TV producers angered by knock-offs

Oct. 14, 2003 at 2:21 PM
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CANNES, France, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Spokesmen for top-rated realty TV shows complain knock-offs of their programs are hurting their ability to fully exploit their properties.

Industry veterans attending the MIPCOM market in Cannes pointed to Germany as a chief offender.

"Is it right that big broadcasters rip off small indies like us?" asked Mathew Frank, managing director of the British production house RDF International, which has seen highly similar versions of its "Wife Swap" and "How Clean Is Your House?" formats appear on German TV.

"What's the incentive to give broadcasters our best ideas? Germany is without doubt the worst offender."

In addition to lost sales or viewers, the knock-offs damage the brand, according to the producers.

Alan Boyd, president of worldwide entertainment at FremantleMedia Prods., told the Hollywood Reporter that copycat formats damage the value of the brand, often permanently.

"People don't remember the original," he said.

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