Star forced to back down in FRAPA format row

Formats-logo-460_2Jan-SallingInternational formats body FRAPA has moved to distance itself from claims from Star China over ownership of the Sing China.

The matter centres on the singing competition series Sing China, which scored massive ratings in the territory last year after Star stopped producing The Voice of China with Talpa Global.

Star believed by registering the format with FRAPA it was handed copyright ownership status, but the formats body does not have this power.

The company released a statement to Asian press organisations to this effect, which led a massive spike in Asian companies contacting FRAPA. The formats body noted an ‘FRS reg’ was not the same as a trademark registration and does provide proof of origination to the owner.

“We are 100% committed to protecting the rights of formats and other intellectual property and the people who create it,” said FRAPA chairman Jan Salling, of Missing Link Media (pictured), in a statement.

“FRAPA wishes to underline that it is a neutral organisation founded to protect and recognise formats, and as such does not want to be misquoted in a way that could harm this neutral position.

“Incorrect information about the legal protection of formats and the status of format registrations is not in the interest of a fair and equal playing field in a flourishing format industry.”

Star China’s statement has “prompted an explosion of questions from mainly Asian media companies about the FRS”, FRAPA added.

Star consultant Michel Rodrigue, CEO of The Formats People, said Star was not planning to sell the series internationally because it “purely a Chinese show”, and that the situation was a misunderstanding on the Chinese company’s part.

However, FRAPA did not feel that went far enough and moved to release its own statement.

China Media Capital broadcaster Star China produced the show, having previously coproduced The Voice of China with Talpa Media.

Talpa Global is producing seasons five to seven of The Voice with Zhejiang Tangde.

Talpa sued Star over the use of the Voice logo after a production agreement between the two ended at the end of 2016, and won the case in June. However, Star still went ahead with its show, originally titled 2016 The Voice of China.

Currently, the FRS system contains more than 1,000 formats and format proposals, and is designed to prove registered work existed the moment it was created.

The furore comes as FRAPA is launching its FRAPA Legal Report 2017 with Baker & McKenize at MIPTV. This details format court cases around the world.

Last week, Banijay Group and FremantleMedia-owned Abot Hamieri settled their issues over similarities between the All Against 1 and Best of All formats.