BBC dancing on thin ice, ITV says

Format sold to ABC is a ripoff, network alleges

LONDON — Blighty’s ITV Studios is turning up the pressure on BBC Worldwide by calling in legal eagles over ABC’s ice skating version of “Dancing With the Stars,” set to bow later this year.

Lawyers have written to BBC Worldwide on ITV’s behalf over the show, which ITV claims is a rip-off of its British format “Dancing on Ice.”

The untitled ABC program features six celebs paired with professional ice skaters. A spokesman for BBC Worldwide declined to comment.

The BBC believes it can ride out the copycat spat because it argues that the U.K. show on which the program is based, a one-off ice-dancing version of “Strictly Come Dancing,” which was the original format for “Dancing With the Stars,” was transmitted in 2004, two years before ITV bowed “Dancing on Ice” in the U.K.

BBC Worldwide’s L.A. production topper Jane Tranter has said of the ABC show, “This program will be a truly unique and exciting experience.”

ITV is concerned that the Worldwide ice show will make it virtually impossible to achieve a deal for “Dancing on Ice” in the U.S.

The format is a money spinner for ITV, which has sold in more than a dozen territories, according to the broadcaster.

It is understood ITV has ruled out suing BBC Worldwide but feels entitled to some compensation such as a licensing agreement or a co-production arrangement for what it insists is its format.

BBC Worldwide and ABC have had a prosperous relationship on “Dancing With the Stars.”

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