A Federal court case is continuing this afternoon with the Seven Network seeking an injunction to immediately stop the broadcast of Endemol produced series The Hot Plate.
Seven’s lawyer Richard Lancaster SC has today told the Federal court that Endemol obtained a copy of the MKR production 'Bible' before producing The Hot Plate. The ‘Bible’ was described as “a highly confidential document used to create and develop the show and its format, on a scene by scene basis.”
Lancaster told the court both programs used the same technique to create dramatic tension. "The contestants or judges come to your domain and judge you, your food and the presentation of your food," he said. "(It's) not just because the cheesecake didn't work ... it's two people in a joint enterprise in a pressure environment that does or doesn't work out".
Endemol has a foot in both camps in this case, As well as being the production company for The Hot Plate; it also negotiates international distribution for Seven’s MKR.
Nine’s lawyer Bruce McClintock SC told the court that “We have no access to the material of this program and we have no access to their ‘bible’.” However the lawyer was later forced to admit Endemol’s CEO Janeen Faithfull had accessed the document to “check if there was a conflict of interest” with Endemol’s involvement in both reality cooking programs.
Justice John Nicolas this afternoon reserved his judgement on the case declining to grant the injunction until he had a chance to view both programs. A decision is now expected Thursday.
This is an important case for the Seven Network and not just because its wants to score some cheap points against rival Nine. As profits from Free to Air Television have declined in recent years, Seven has branched out producing and selling content for other broadcasters. Locally Seven Productions is producing ‘A Place To Call Home’ exclusively for Foxtel, Internationally Seven has two production companies 7Wonder in the UK, and 7Beyond in the USA.
The Australian version of My Kitchen Rules has been broadcast in numerous countries around the world, more importantly Seven has sold the format to production companies in England, USA, New Zealand, Russia and Serbia whom have produced their own versions of the show.
Nine’s The Hot Plate is seen as a direct threat to this international success. If Endemol can successfully clone MKR in this country then there will be nothing stopping them from doing so in other markets. My Kitchen Rules has become an extremely profitable format for Seven and its understandable why the network would seek to protect its trademark.
Nine was clearly nervous in the lead-up to the premiere of The Hot Plate. TV reviewers including from this website were restricted from viewing review content online. The only people allowed to view the program were those that visited Nine’s premises.
Last nights Monday episode of The Hot Plate achieved its highest rating so far, winning its timeslot with 944,000 viewers just ahead of Ten’s new series The Great Australian Spelling Bee 921,000, while Seven’s Restaurant Revolution languished on 522,000
Seven has now made the decision to remove Restaurant Revolution from its schedule for next Monday, the program will now only air on Thursday nights. While the series remains in production, its likely the number of episodes produced will now be reduced with Seven desperate to get to the finale.
This article will be updated as court proceedings continue.
Sources - Mumbrella and SBS