The Format Recognition and Protection Association (FRAPA) has said there are “striking similarities” between a Ukrainian remake of a Romanian entertainment show and The Masked Singer, as the format dispute between broadcast rivals 1+1 and TRK Ukraine heats up.
TRK Ukraine accused 1+1 of ripping off The Masked Singer last month, arguing that the local remake of Antena’s Mysteries In The Spotlight – known locally as Maskarad – included a raft of similarities with the hit Korean format that were not in the original Romanian show.
Masked Singer distributor Fremantle then referred the matter to FRAPA, which has now ruled on the two shows’ similarities. These include masked celebs performing solo, clues being given by contestants in digitally altered voices and each episode featuring a finale where one celebrity unmasks and the others continue.
The FRAPA report also noted similarities in design, staging and colour scheme between Maskarad and the Russian version of The Masked Singer, which it used for comparison, ruling that the shows were 73% similar.
The main difference between the formats, FRAPA noted, was that Maskarad involved competition between two panels, while The Masked Singer only had one. They also noted smaller additions, including the digital sidekick of the host and the lip-synch battle between the teams of personalities to decide who gets to choose the celebrity that unmasks.
Legal advice & sanctions
Following the FRAPA report, TRK – along with the Masked Singer distributor Fremantle and the format’s Korean owner MBC – said they hoped 1+1 would alter their show. The companies are also understood to be taking legal advice as to what sanctions would be available to them in Ukraine.
In a joint statement, TRK Ukraine, MBC and Fremantle said: “FRAPA has confirmed through an analysis our concerns over the incorporation by 1+1 of key elements of The Masked Singer into their version of Mysteries In The Spotlight (broadcasting in Ukraine as Maskarad).
“The report issued by FRAPA reports ‘striking similarities’ between the two formats and has concluded that they are 73% similar. All parties involved have been informed of the report, and we hope that now armed with this information, 1+1 will stop transmitting this programme and return to making a genuine version of Mysteries In The Spotlight.”
TRK Ukraine acquired remake rights to Masked Singer in May, with its version of the show set to be called Маска. TBI understands that Masked Singer distributor Fremantle had initially offered Ukrainian rights to 1+1 but they were ultimately outbid by TRK, which plans to launch its show in early 2021.
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.
It is not the first time the format has found itself at the centre of copycat controversy, with MBC winning an arbitration case against Shanghai CanXing Culture & Media in China this summer.