The Dutch television production giant that holds the rights to the reality show "Big Brother" is suing Channel 10 and Israeli production company Abbot Reif Hameiri for NIS 3 million, arguing that they copied the show's format to create another reality show, "24/7: The Next Generation."

Channel 10 has sold the format of "24/7," which got poor to middling ratings when it aired in the summer, to television stations in several other countries.

"Watching 'The Next Generation' creates a clear impression of blunt, conscious copying of the format and content of 'Big Brother,' not to mention the deliberate and unacceptable attempt by the defendants to improperly steal the identity of 'Big Brother,'" states the lawsuit, filed by television production company Endemol.

Endemol is also suing over what it says are trade secrets that were leaked by former "Big Brother" production staff members, including editors and the chief producer, who were hired to produce "24/7."

Channel 10 said "24/7" is an original show.

"Channel 10 carefully observes all legal requirements, including intellectual property laws, in all its productions, as it did with this production," the station said in a statement. "As we made clear to Endemol... its complaints are without foundation."

"Big Brother," which airs on Channel 2, begins its fourth season next week.

Like "24/7," it features contestants locked in a home while the cameras roll nonstop. The Channel 10 show features a bachelor, Eitan Orbach, who is locked in a house with several male friends and several women vying for their attention.

In both shows, the contestants compete for the affection of the audience, and a cash prize.

The lawsuit argues that the two shows have similar components and a similar look and feel.

90-second delay

As "Big Brother" gets set to go back on the air, the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting has imposed new restrictions on the channel that has previously broadcast the 24-hour live feed from the "Big Brother" house.

That station, Channel 20, will now have to air the feed with a 90-second delay to give the channel a chance to censor "improper" content, the council has decided.

If any such content appears in any case, Channel 20 must broadcast an apology immediately, the council ruled.

The council also decided that during the prime time hours of 7 P.M. to 11 P.M. the message "Smoking is hazardous to your health" will appear on the screen twice an hour.