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Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Blow for mogul's Big Brother claim
Big Brother
The Big Brother set: Parsons says the idea is taken from his show Survive!
A UK tycoon who claims hit TV programme Big Brother was stolen from him by a Dutch TV company has lost his initial legal challenge against the firm - but vowed to keep on his fight.

Charlie Parsons, founder of production company Planet 24, alleges that Big Brother is a copy of Survive! - a programme idea he offered to Endemol.

Endemol rejected the idea but Parsons claims that at least 11 fundamental ingredients from Survive! have turned up in the globally successful format for Big Brother.


This isn't about money - it's about the principle

Charlie Parsons

Parsons, 42, is seeking compensation from Endemol head John de Mol. But in the Amsterdam District Court, the judge ruled the show did not infringe on Parsons' ideas.

However, Parsons pledged to continue his battle. "This isn't about money - it's about the principle," he said.

"If I ever won any compensation I would be quite happy to give the money to charity."

Big Brother
All the housemates' actions are under scrutiny
Parsons says he got the idea for Survive! from a 1988 slot on the now-defunct UK breakfast station TV-am - where he was working at the time.

Brainstorming

His concept involved four contestants being "shipwrecked" on a desert island, rather than being stranded in a Big Brother-style house.

John de Mol disputes that any of these elements have been used in the interactive TV show Big Brother.

The show sees 10 strangers put together in a house with no access to the outside world, watched by a raft of TV cameras, picking up their every move.

De Mol says Big Brother was the result of a brainstorming session with colleagues.

A spokeswoman for Endemol commented on the outcome of the case's first hearing.

"The Amsterdam District court ruled that Endemol did not infringe on the format of Survive! so those claims have been refuted," she said.

TV3 boss Juerg Wildberger
Swiss TV executives launching their own Big Brother on Wednesday
"We have every confidence that any further legal action will have the same outcome."

Parsons launched his appeal two weeks ago. The first stage in the legal process - which Parsons lost - involved it being heard in front of the members of the court on their own.

The second stage, however, will bring witnesses into the case.

Parsons concluded that although he could not be certain of victory he would remain upbeat and would be fighting "defiantly" for it.

Planet 24 - the company behind Channel 4 hits The Big Breakfast and The Word - was sold by Parsons and his business partners, Waheed Alli and Bob Geldof, to Carlton last year.

The trio - through their new company Castaway - still own the rights to Survive!

The Survive! format was recently turned into the US TV hit Survivor.

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