AMC has not always historically had the best relationship with its show creators. Back in 2011, the fifth season of Mad Men was delayed a year over a deepening contract dispute between AMC and Mad Men’s creator, Matthew Weiner. Moreover, the original showrunner of The Walking Dead, Frank Darabont, has been in a legal dispute with the network for years over profit sharing, and the lawsuit has occasionally gotten very ugly.
The latest legal dispute involves the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, as well as three other producers on the series, Gale Anne Hurd, Glen Mazzara (the showrunner from 2011-13) and David Alpert. Kirkman and Hurd are also suing over profit sharing on Fear the Walking Dead.
The dispute is similar to the one that AMC is having with Frank Darabont. Basically, Kirkman et. al, contend that they are not receiving their fair share of the profits from the top-rated series on cable. In a typical scenario, a network pays a license fee to a studio for the rights to broadcast the series, and the producers’ share of the profits is based on the licensing fee number. In the case of The Walking Dead, they own the series themselves, so no license fee needs to be paid. AMC figures their own “imputed” license fee, of which the producers get a share. Kirkman and Co., argue that AMC is lowballing the number to avoid having to pay a larger sum to the producers.