UK continues to enjoy success in the global TV formats market

Recent research shows that the UK is still enjoying pre-eminence in the global format trade. In the comprehensive 2005 FRAPA/Screen Digest report “The Global Trade in Television Formats” the sheer volume of the trade in international formats was comprehensively analysed. These were the key points of the market overview section of the report:

  • The global format market production was worth EURO 6.4 billion between 2002 and 2004.
  • The average spend per hour on format production is EURO 147,565.
  • Game shows account for 50% of all formats broadcast worldwide.
  • The UK is the second biggest exporter of format concepts.
  • Germany is the biggest importer of formats in Europe and the biggest spender on format production.

The Screen Digest report showed that the UK is the most important format originating country in the world. Between 2002 and 2004, 12,543 hours of original UK formats were broadcast in the markets covered by the report (including the UK itself). This represented 29% of all formats broadcast in these countries. Over the last three years up to 2005, the number of original UK formats grew by 18.9% (although this rate was lower than for the overall format market which was 21.9%). After the UK, the Netherlands is the second most important format originator, marginally ahead of the USA which was the third most important originating country.

Recent statistics from FreemantleMedia show that the UK continues to dominate the global entertainment formats business, and in particular in the first quarter of 2007 it enjoyed a 40% share of the global market with such shows as “Got Talent” and “How to Look Good Naked”.

The FreemantleMedia research also shows that the UK accounted for 6 of the 15 global entertainment formats that were adopted in at least two new territories in the first quarter. The FreemantleMedia research also showed that in 2006 68 global TV formats were adopted in these territories of which 29 have been produced by the UK, with the US second with 9 and the Netherlands third with 6.

Doubtless the FreemantleMedia Director of Finance, Ian Ousey, was correct to comment that the UK was seen as a creative hub because of its positive regulatory environment which allowed producers to hold onto the rights for their shows, along with the risks which British broadcasters are willing to take in commissioning new formats.

However, there is also a growing body of international case law which suggests that contrary to some indications in the 80s and 90s that format rights were not capable of protection, recent cases in jurisdictions such as Hungary, Turkey, Holland, Malta and Brazil all suggest that original formats, whether scripted or not, will be granted protection by the courts.

For a practical summary of the international law of television formats and a comprehensive guide to how best to protect your format, you can attend the International Format Lawyers Association seminar at MIPCOM in Cannes on 8 October 2007 at the Palais des Festivals.



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Value of television formats continues to grow despite legal uncertainty
No passing off protection for descriptive programme title: A&E television networks v Channel 4
Hungarian Court confirms copyright protection for radio programme format
French Court gives protection to TV format: Saranga Production v Canal Plus
Australian Court refuses copyright protection for Dream Home TV format: Nine Films v Ninox
Dream Home, The Block and The Complex: Format disputes in Australia
Wife Swap v Trading Spouses: Scores level after first round
Dutch Supreme Court confirms format rights decision: Castaway v Endemol
Endemol wins copyright protection for Big Brother in Brazil
The real lessons concerning format rights from the Celebrity/Survivor proceedings

Bulletins are for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters. Where reference is made to Court decisions facts referred to are those reported as found by the Court. Please note that past bulletins included in the Archive have not been updated by any subsequent changes in statute or case law.