The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company is taking legal action to prevent Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca from continuing to air a series that itsy president and CEO Kenn Viselman says appears to be a copy of the tremendously hot Teletubbies series. The TV Azteca series has many similarities to the Ragdoll Productions original, down to its name, TeleChobis, says Viselman, whose New York-based company is Teletubbies’ distributor in North America. Other elements that Viselman says are similar to the original series include singing characters, intercut live-action sequences and a magic talking tree setting that closely resembles the magic dome with talking trumpets found in Teletubbies.
At press time, court proceedings in the Mexican case were slated to begin January 15, according to David Levine, itsy bitsy’s director of legal affairs and business development. The suit against TV Azteca claims copyright infringement, and will seek to have the series immediately removed from broadcast. ‘We are going to avail ourselves of all recourse available under Mexican law, including damages and the cost of bringing the lawsuit,’ says Levine.
Giving assurance that Teletubbies would air commercial-free, both TV Azteca’s Mexican competitor, Televisa, and Brazil’s TV Globo Network were able to secure above-board deals with itsy bitsy to run 130 half-hour episodes of the preschool series starting in early 1999.