Fremantle sues Swiss b'caster over 'Farmer'

Claims 3+ Group copied its reality format

LONDON -- Global producer-distributor FremantleMedia has initiated legal action against Swiss broadcaster 3+ Group, alleging it has illegally copied Fremantle's reality format "The Farmer Wants a Wife" with its own show, "Bauer, Ledig, Sucht" (Farmer, Single, Looking).

Fremantle had developed a global hit with the farmer-finds-romance format, which was originally developed for ITV in the U.K. in 2001, and said it had extensive discussions with 3+ about developing the show for the Swiss network.

"Our production team held long and detailed formal discussions about 'The Farmer Wants a Wife' with 3+, who then cut off the discussions and shortly afterward announced 'Bauer, Ledig, Sucht,' " said Tony Stern, FremantleMedia Worldwide Entertainment's executive vp commercial and business affairs. "We cannot let this go unchallenged."

Swiss group 3+ confirmed the action but declined comment.