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BBC Worldwide, RAI win ‘Baila!’ suit

Mediaset forced to change format

A Rome court on Monday ruled in favor of BBC Worldwide and Italo pubcaster RAI in their copyright infringement suit against Mediaset over dance show “Baila!,” forcing Silvio Berlusconi’s TV group to make last-minute changes before bowing the show.

BBC and RAI claimed in their suit that “Baila!” illegally copied the BBC’s “Strictly Come Dancing” format, which sold around the world as “Dancing With the Stars.”

Rome judge Gabrielle Muscolo ruled that Mediaset could not air the show with “some of the characteristics described in its written deposition,” but did not make those characteristics public.

This prompted media speculation that Mediaset would pull the first “Baila!” on Monday night.

But Mediaset announced that the show would air, as planned, on its Canale 5 flagship station, taking careful note of a list of unspecified objections made by the Rome court.

Monday’s ruling was hailed as historic by RAI attorney Giorgio Assumma, who commented that it “will help regulate TV competition.”

Mediaset called the decision “unfair and erroneous” and vowed to appeal “urgently.”

The top local commercial broadcaster noted that the ruling was made without anyone “having seen even one minute of the new show. ‘Baila!’ will abide by all the objections raised by the Rome court, confident that they will subsequently swiftly cease to exist.”

The statement did not specify the changes Mediaset made to the show.

“Baila!” is an Endemol format adapted from Televisa’s Latin American format “Bailando por un sueno” (Dancing for a Dream).

Mediaset has said that Endemol, from which it purchased the “Baila!” format, has guaranteed that it’s original.

In rejecting accusations of plagiarism, Mediaset VP Pier Silvio Berlusconi has said a key difference between the two shows is that “Baila!” pairs stars with amateur dancers, unlike “Dancing With the Stars,” where celebs partner with professionals.

“Dancing With the Stars” is among the world’s most successful reality TV format, licensed to more than 35 broadcasters.

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