Ukrainian broadcaster 1+1 has said it is not planning to make any changes to its singing show Masquerade, as its dispute with The Masked Singer distributor Fremantle and local network TRK Ukraine continues.
The disagreement began last month when TRK Ukraine accused rival 1+1 of ripping off The Masked Singer, arguing that the local remake of Antena’s Mysteries In The Spotlight included similarities with the hit Korean format that were not in the original Romanian show.
Fremantle, TRK and The Masked Singer’s Korean owners MBC then referred the matter to the Format Recognition and Protection Association (FRAPA), whose recent report said there were “striking similarities” between Masquerade and the Russian version of The Masked Singer, which it used for comparison.
However, FRAPA ruled that the shows were only 73% similar – below the organisation’s own threshold of 80% that it says proves that a format is a copy.
‘No changes planned’
The Ukrainian broadcaster told TBI that it is “not planning to make any changes” to Masquerade and reiterated that its programme is “an adaptation of the Romanian Mysteries In The Spotlight format, which 1+1 bought from the owner, Antena TV Group.”
The broadcaster added that it would “consider any further issues relating to the Masquerade show in the framework of the legal area only,” and highlighted the fact that its show had not passed the 80% FRAPA threshold for a copy. It also said that the report had not been shared with it prior to publication and questioned the details supplied to the format body.
“FRAPA didn’t request any information and used the data provided by only one party,” 1+1 said. “Moreover, the FRAPA report, based only on one episode, includes unreliable information. In particular, it is said that there are two judge teams competing in the Masquerade show when, indeed, the format has no judges. The report also mentions other inaccuracies [that] the media holding is willing to provide comment [to] after learning the details.”
Following the FRAPA report, TRK, Fremantle and MBC had 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.
1+1 has also previously said it will take the matter to court, arguing that TRK’s allegations are “incorrect and unsubstantiated”.
The dispute comes six months since TRK Ukraine acquired remake rights to Masked Singer, which is 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.
FRAPA was contacted for comment regarding this story shortly prior to press time but has not yet responded.