January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

There’s a giant sucking sound in Teletubbyland. Itsy bitsy Entertainment, the U.S. distributor of the British kid-TV phenom Teletubbies, is up in arms over TeleChobis (sounds like Telechubbies), a Latino version of the show about the colorful elfin dumplings currently being aired by Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca. Itsy bitsy’s lawyers are calling the Chobis — named Nita, Toso, Ton, and Tis — a blatant copyright infringement. ”We’ve asked TV Azteca to take it off the air and end this peacefully,” says David Levine, the company’s legal-affairs director. Levine says the Mexican network initially was interested in Teletubbies but balked at Itsy bitsy’s requirement that it air commercial free. Producer Alejandro Romero says TeleChobis was developed by Azteca’s own ”creative team” and is doing ”pretty well” in the ratings. He also says he’s never heard of Teletubbies. Levine discards that like an old piece of Tubby Toast, vowing ”We intend to take all necessary legal actions to protect our rights.”

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