ECM, the UK television distribution company, has won a landmark case against a Chinese television station for screening a show based on a format owned by ECM without its licence, the Financial Times said. Shenzhen Cable station bought the format for Go Binngo – screened in the UK as Lucky Number – from ECM in 1998 but refused to pay the contract fee. After winning an arbitration award, ECM took the Chinese company to court and secured a decision ordering the company to pay the contractual amount of US$200,000 plus interest.
The Shenzhen precedent may help ECM protect another deal in China to franchise the format of the BBC’s The Weakest Link. A show based on the format licensed by the BBC and ECM was due to be screened across China, starting in mid-February. However, a Shanghai station has launched a show that echoes the quiz show’s formula, prompting the BBC to complain to the channel and central government.