Cologne, August 12, 2008: On June 24, Howard Davine, executive vice-president of ABC Studios, allegedly wrote a memo to executive producers urging them to “carefully scrutinise” whether licensing foreign formats “is necessary or appropriate”.
The leaked memo, which first appeared on the Los Angeles blog site Deadline Hollywood Daily and has, in recent weeks, been picked up by several international publications, effectively gives permission to ABC’s producers to copy “the underlying premise” of a show without licensing the format. If true, this runs contrary to FRAPA’s core mission, which is to ensure that television formats are respected by the industry and protected by law as intellectual property.
In the following statement, Fox Reality president David Lyle, FRAPA steering committee member and one of its founding fathers, sets out the association’s position and its response to Davine’s memo:“FRAPA and the international TV production community have waited in vain for ABC or Disney to respond to Howard Davine’s outrageous memo. FRAPA believes in, and fights for, the intellectual property of formats. FRAPA believes that formats belong to the people who create them and that they should not be used unlawfully by any company — even one as big as ABC.
“Mr Davine’s skilfully written memo does not use words like steal, theft or rip-off, but it certainly could be seen as encouraging his producers and show-runners not to license formats honestly. “If ABC and Disney refuse to repudiate the content of the Davine memo, then producers in the US and around the world might note their silence and help themselves to the ‘underlying premise’ of Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana. “Producers might even be persuaded by Mr Davine’s memo to be inspired by the ‘general underlying premise’ of a well known Disney cartoon character. In the spirit of the memo, the rip-off rodent might be called Tricky Mouse.”