LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge on Friday said he’s inclined to allow ABC to air its new reality competition series “The Glass House” over rival network CBS’ objections that the show copies “Big Brother.”
U.S. District Judge Gary Feess said Friday he was not persuaded that CBS had proved it would be harmed if “Glass House” aired. He said the new show’s audience participation element is likely to make it different from “Big Brother.”
ABC has said “Glass House” contestants will have to curry audience popularity in order to succeed on the series.
“The audience involvement in particular in `The Glass House’ is a constant role in this show as it proceeds,” Feess said. “I think is very likely to induce quite different behavior than one would expect to see in the `Big Brother’ show.”
Feess said he would look at issues raised during a hearing Friday, but he didn’t think his tentative decision on CBS’ request for an injunction would change.
CBS had sought to block the show from airing over concerns it violated copyright and trade secrets related to its hit show “Big Brother.” “Glass House” is scheduled to air Monday night after “The Bachelorette.”
“This is the first time where a reality show has been copied lock, stock and barrel with minor changes around the fringes to try to make it look different,” CBS attorney Scott Edelman argued Friday.
Feess said CBS was trying to protect generic reality show elements, which isn’t allowed under copyright law. He also said he thinks CBS overstated its trade secret complaints.
Glenn Pomerantz, who represents ABC, said there was no way CBS could prove its case and his clients weren’t stealing their work.
“ABC doesn’t want to use any of CBS’ trade secrets,” Pomerantz said. “It doesn’t need them.”
ABC had denied all wrongdoing and said it has spent $16 million promoting the show and millions more to develop it.
CBS said regardless of Feess’ ultimate ruling, it would continue to pursue its case and it “may still warrant more injunction proceedings depending on the content of each episode.”
Edelman argued that “Big Brother” has pioneered the techniques that “Glass House” will use to produce its show, and that it has previously included audience participation elements that altered the arc of “Big Brother” seasons.
Feess disagreed, saying many of those techniques could be “reverse-engineered” from watching “Big Brother” and didn’t warrant blocking the new show.
The judge, who acknowledged he’s no fan of reality television, said he’s not convinced that “Glass House” will eat into the audience of “Big Brother.”
“Frankly I thought after the first or second reality shows on television, we would never see others,” Feess said. “Boy, was I wrong.”