Copycat memo irks format folks

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International format protection body FRAPA has called on ABC Studios to repudiate the contents of an internal memo from exec vp Howard Davine that has been interpreted as advising producers to look at ways of copying foreign formats rather than licensing and paying for them.

In an unusually forceful warning, FRAPA committee member and Fox Reality Channel president David Lyle said that ABC Studios owner Disney risks having its own formats stolen if it doesn't act.

"If ABC and Disney refuse to repudiate the contents of the Davine memo, then producers in both the U.S. and around the world might note their silence and help themselves to the 'underlying premise' of 'Hannah Montana,' " he said.

In the copy of the memo published by the blog Deadline Hollywood Daily, Davine asks producers to "carefully scrutinize" whether licensing successful foreign formats is "necessary or appropriate."

"Between format rights fees and executive producer fees, there are significant costs added to your production budget that will impact what you can put on the screen. … A large chunk of the back-end will go to the rightsholder," the memo states. (partialdiff)
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