National TV channel Ukraine has accused its domestic rival 1+1 of ripping off its local version of hit format The Masked Singer.
The broadcaster, owned by TRBC Ukraine, said that 1+1’s show Maskarad (The Masquerade), which was broadcast on 3 October, “illegally used the elements of the world-famous format of The Masked Singer.”
The Masked Singer – which originated out of Korean broadcaster MBC as The King of Mask Singer – has been one of the biggest entertainment formats of recent years, with local versions in the UK with ITV and Fox in the US, among more than 30 other deals.
TV channel Ukraine acquired remake rights to the format from distributor Fremantle in May, with its version of the show, Маска, set to debut later this year. The broadcaster said that the “piratic behaviour” of 1+1 with its show Maskarad “violates the rights and legal interest of TV channel Ukraine.”
The broadcaster’s statement added: “The undisguised plagiarism by the nation-wide broadcaster that lost the competition to purchase the rights to adapt the successful international format to TV channel Ukraine contradicts the principles of fair competition in the national market of audiovisual works.
“It ruins the legal bases for creating a civilised market of copyright as well as the international reputation of Ukraine as a country in which broadcasters respect and protect the copyright.”
The Ukraine channel added that it would be addressing FRAPA (Format Recognition and Protection Association) regarding the protection of its rights, and that it is currently in talks with the Ukrainian minister of culture Oleksandr Tkachenko – who also used to be the head of 1+1.
Fremantle, which sells the Masked Singer format globally, backed TV channel Ukraine in the dispute.
“We are obviously very disappointed by 1+1’s actions. Despite reassurances they gave to us and to The Masked Singer’s format owner MBC that they would be making a genuine version of Mysteries In The Spotlight, it is very clear that in fact the show they have produced is much closer to The Masked Singer than it is to Mysteries.
“We will be referring the matter to FRAPA, the format industry association dedicated to the protection of formats, to get their view on what 1+1 have done and then will agree with our partners TRK Ukraine and MBC an appropriate response”.
1+1 is yet to comment on the controversy.