BBC to sue Italian channel for 'pornographic' Strictly

Bruce Forsyth

Sir Bruce Forsyth hosts the UK edition of 'Strictly Come Dancing'

BBC Worldwide is to sue an Italian TV channel for launching a ''pornographic'' version of 'Strictly Come Dancing', which it claims rips off the format of the celebrity dancing contest.

BBC Worldwide is to sue an Italian TV channel for launching a "pornographic" version of 'Strictly Come Dancing'.

The corporation's commercial arm has called in lawyers over claims Mediaset - a network owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi - has ripped off the format of the BBC One celebrity dancing contest.

A fully licensed version of the series, operating under the international title 'Dancing with the Stars', has aired on Italian channel Rai for the past six years, but the new show - named 'Baila!' and scheduled to go out on Canale 5 - is based on South American format 'Bailando Por Un Sueno'.

Both Rai and the BBC have now launched a joint legal action against Mediaset in a court in Rome, as well as threatening a suit against the "pornographic" South American version, which saw one model perform a routine topless and simulate sex with her partner.

A spokesperson for the corporation said: "BBC Worldwide takes the protection of its copyright extremely seriously and is currently undertaking legal action in Italy to protect its 'Dancing with the Stars' format.

"It has been named as the world's most successful reality TV format and has been licensed to over 35 international broadcasters.

"It is very important to BBC Worldwide and its international licensees that the format is protected from infringement."

However, Pier Silvio Berlusconi - deputy chairman of Mediaset at the Prime Minister's son - claims there are key differences in the formats of the two shows.

He said in a statement: "It is a dancing talent show with the peculiarity of involving both celebrities and normal people.

"The dance talent show is a format that works on commercial television everywhere in the world. We certainly wouldn't claim that the only reality format is 'Big Brother'."


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