RIO DE JANEIRO — Leading network TV Globo’s “Big Brother Brasil,” originally skedded to bow this month, has been postponed indefinitely.

The move follows a bitter wrangle with rival broadcaster SBT, which wrapped its reality show “Casa dos Artistas” Dec. 17, beating TV Globo in the Sunday night ratings.

TV Globo claimed “Casa” was a copy of “Big Brother,” a format it planned to launch this month under a joint venture with “Brother’ creator Endemol.

“Casa” differs from “Brother” by featuring actors, singers, musicians and models — rather than members of the general public — holed up in a house and watched by cameras around the clock.

It bowed Oct. 28 and was forced off the air a few nights later as injunctions flew back and forth in a legal — and PR — battle.

That may have whetted auds’ appetites. The Dec. 16 final episode lasted nearly four hours, from 8:36 p.m. Sunday to 12:16 a.m. Monday, with an average audience share of 46.4% in the greater Sao Paolo area, according to ratings agency Ibope.

” ‘Casa’ is the phenomenon of the year, but I would not call it a landmark program,” Brazilian TV analyst Gabriel Priolli told Daily Variety.

Picking up in primetime

SBT gained ground during weekday primetime (6 p.m.-midnight in Brazil) on the strength of “Casa’s” run. SBT’s average audience share increased to 17% in the first half of December, up five percentage points from the beginning of 2001.

A judge in the Netherlands ruled in favor of Endemol in its case against SBT and ordered SBT to suspend the show or pay $100,000 per aired episode. But the ruling came after the series ended.

SBT said it was “judged in absentia” and that any decision by a foreign court must be ratified by Brazil’s Supreme Court.