Judge to hear arguments over ABC reality show

Published 11:23 am Friday, June 15, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) — CBS is getting its chance to try to shatter rival ABC’s plan for its new reality competition show “The Glass House” by focusing their arguments on one person — a federal judge.

Attorneys for both networks will appear Friday morning before U.S. District Judge Gary Feess to argue whether the show should premiere as planned on Monday night, or be bumped from the schedule over copyright and trade secret concerns.

Both sides say they have much at stake: CBS claims “Glass House” could erode the audience for its hit series “Big Brother,” while ABC argues it has spent several million dollars on the show already and the fate of nearly 150 show workers is on the line.

Email newsletter signup

The dispute has been brewing for more than a month, when CBS first threatened to sue claiming “Glass House” copies key elements from “Big Brother.” They also point to the numerous former “Big Brother” staffers now working on the ABC show and claim some of those workers may be violating non-disclosure agreements.

In a deposition, one of the show’s top producers acknowledged telling a staffer to type up sections of a “Big Brother” manual for use on “Glass House,” CBS attorneys stated in court filings.

ABC however notes that while the shows have similar elements, so does most of reality television. They told Feess that if he sided with CBS, he would be the first judge to block a reality show from airing despite previous attempts. CBS and ABC battled several years ago over the show “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” and whether that series copied “Survivor” too closely. The show was allowed to air, but lasted only one season on ABC.

Feess stated in an early note in the case that he has presided over a reality show disputes before and that CBS would have to show more than proof that “Glass House” copied ideas to block the show from airing.