Banijay International Requests Injunction Against Eyeworks Diving Format 'Celebrity Splash'

1:14 PM PST 10/18/2012 by Scott Roxborough

The production company claims the reality format, which Eyeworks has licenced to ABC, is a copy of one of its shows.

COLOGNE, Germany -- The world, it seems, isn't big enough for two celebrity high-diving reality shows.

French-based production group Banijay International has requested an injunction against Celebrity Splash, the entertainment format from Dutch group Eyeworks in which VIPs compete in a series of high dives, claiming the show is a copy of the older German format, TV Total Turmspringen, created by Banijay subsidiary Brainpool.

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Eyeworks' show was a ratings hit in the Netherlands earlier this year on free-to-air network SBS6. At the MIPCOM  international television market in Cannes last week, Eyeworks licenced the format to several major international broadcasters, including ABC in the U.S., ITV in the U.K. and TF1 in France.

Both formats involve celebrities diving into swimming pools. In Eyeworks’ Celebrity Splash, nine celebrities receive training from a professional instructor, The Voice style, before competing against one another in a series of high-diving elimination rounds.

Brainpool's version has the celebs receiving instruction from Germany's national swimming association before competing in different dives in front of a panel of judges.

Brainpool's German version has been a ratings success for local broadcaster Pro7 since its first broadcast in 2004. It is shown as a yearly event and will air for the 8th time later this year. The German show, however, had not been successfully exported until just recently, when Banijay signed its first international licensing deals for the format with broadcasters such as Sweden's TV3 and Norway's TV2.

For its part, Eyeworks claims it was not aware of the Brainpool format and developed its own celebrity diving show in-house. In a statement, Eyeworks managing director Sander Emmering said the German show "never attracted any substantial international exposure or interest." Eyeworks has suggested Banijay only started actively selling the Brainpool diving format after Celebrity Splash became a hit.

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The legal battle highlights the particular difficulties of copyright protection in the booming international format market, where dozens of similar-sounding reality and entertainment shows compete for the same broadcaster commissions around the world.

Earlier this year, Banijay Entertainment was itself caught up in a format dispute when Endemol France sued the company over its French reality series Dilemme, claiming it borrowed from Endemol's own French formats Secret Story and Loft Story. A French court last month rejected all of Endemol's claims. Endemol has appealed against the ruling.

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