Publicity images from ABC childrens show, Bubble Bath Bay.
Publicity images from ABC childrens show, Bubble Bath Bay.

ABC accused of ripping off idea for kids’ TV show

THE ABC is in hot water over a claim that its popular children's animated series Bubble Bath Bay ripped off an idea ­unsuccessfully pitched to the broadcaster.

Writer Anne Duncan wants $770,000 in damages after ­accusing the ABC and Screen Australia of unconscionable conduct by passing on confidential information to other writers.

The Victorian Civil and ­Administrative Tribunal has heard that in 2010, the ABC ­rejected Ms Duncan's creation Buster the Brave Little Wooden Boat for kids' programming.

In 2011, Screen Australia knocked back a grant application by Ms Duncan, who runs Story Time Productions, to produce an animated series called Buster and Jack.


Publicity images from ABC children’s show ‘Bubble Bath Bay’.
Publicity images from ABC children’s show ‘Bubble Bath Bay’.

In her statement of claim, Ms Duncan said that in 2013 she met a person named Claire Masen, who had told her that she was the main writer for an animated series called Bubble Bath Bay that was centred on a little boat.

Ms Duncan said that Ms Masen told her she didn't know who had created the ­series, first broadcast on the ABC Kids channel in early 2015.

Ms Duncan claims that Bubble Bath Bay is substantially similar to her creations, and that in 2015 other parties had rejected her pitch for Buster and Jack because of that ­ same similarity.

The ABC applied to VCAT to strike out or dismiss Ms Duncan's application on grounds including lack of jurisdiction and that her claim was "vague and unclear".

But VCAT member Blair Ussher ruled that her claims fell within the tribunal's jurisdiction.

And he said that despite her statement of claim seeming "deficient and amateurish … I consider that she has made a very good effort at expressing her claim, particularly given the complexity of this area of the law".

Mr Ussher struck out the claim against Screen Australia, but allowed Ms Duncan to lodge an amended statement of claim against the ABC by September 30.

He said that his findings in no way endorsed Ms Duncan's claims against the ABC or pointed to the ­"ultimate determination of the ­issues".