Strategic behaviour in the international exploitation of TV formats: a case study of the Idols format

Singh, S. and Kretschmer, M. (2012) Strategic behaviour in the international exploitation of TV formats: a case study of the Idols format. In: Zwaan, K. and De Bruin, J. (eds.) Adapting Idols: Authenticity, Identity and Performance in a Global Television Format. Series: Ashgate popular and folk music series. Ashgate: Farnham, Surrey, pp. 11-25. ISBN 9781409441694

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The international trade in TV formats has been increasing steadily. According to the Format Recognition and Protection Association (a format producers' industry association) the value of the global TV format business exceeds 9.3 billion (FRAPA 2009). In the early 2000s, the market grew more than 30 per cent in three years, and the UK became one of the lead exporters of formats, along with USA and the Netherlands (FT 2005). This case study investigates how Idols became one of the most successful television formats sold worldwide with, as noted in the Introduction, over 40 global versions in the absence of specific format rights. Component parts of an Idols type format may attract copyright protection in its production manual (also known as 'format bible'), set design, programming sequence, episode segments and musical content; but in a court of law, the underlying concept and the format arrangement of the components does not attract copyright protection. From a legal perspective, if there is no formal protection regime provided by law, competitors should be able to copy the product freely and hence the price of such a product should be zero. However, formats are bought and sold for large sums of money. The licensees fees alone for a sought after format, such as Idols, can cost broadcasters in a Western European territory, upwards of 35,000 for one series of 20 to 30 episodes of 1 hour duration besides additional fees for consultancy in the form of flying producers. This case study identifies the strategies employed by producers of the Idols format to counter the limited legal protection available to their cultural products. The case study is structured as follows. The first section gives an introductory overview of international trade in the Idols format, circumscribing the issue of format imitation from a legal and commercial point of view. Secondly, the research design for the case study is explained. Thirdly, market based patterns of format protection and exploitation are identified from the empirical data. The chapter concludes with a discussion section, in which these patterns of exploitation are grouped into three overarching strategies pursued by the producers of the Idols format.

Item Type:Book Sections
Keywords:TV formats, television formats, copyright, licensing, franchise
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Singh, Dr Sukhpreet and Kretschmer, Professor Martin
Authors: Singh, S., and Kretschmer, M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
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