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Frank's multinational lesson

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05 April 2011

It’s a move that speaks volumes about how the TV production sector has moved on from its early, cottage industry days.

David Frank, the boss of production giant Zodiak Media Group, says he has been busy studying how multinational pharmaceutical companies and car manufacturers motivate and incentivise their staff.

Best known as the founder of Wife Swap producer RDF Media, Frank sold his company to Zodiak Media Group last year. He’s now CEO of Zodiak, which spans 45 production companies across 17 countries.

Given the size of the company he now runs, Frank says his biggest challenge is how to motivate and retain the very best creative people in the market within in a multinational group.

As a result, he’s spent plenty of time learning “how large corporations incentivise staff to contribute to the global endeavor, and contribute to global success.”

Speaking at MipTV, he added: “How does one try and ensure that the fantastic local talent operating in different local markets… how does one somehow combine that at the centre without destroying the local creativity?”

However, Frank declined to reveal in public exactly what conclusions he had reached.

Saying that Zodiak operated in three key areas – kids, scripted drama and non-fiction – Frank explained that television remains its core activity – and would do for some time to come.

“I don’t subscribe to the theory that the TV business is screwed, that it’s all going fragmented and going online or digital. I consider that we are a TV company first and foremost…the ability to aggregate sizeable audiences on a TV platform is where we start and we finish somewhere else.”

He thought that the recent focus by broadcasters on ‘360 degree content’ that often started on the web and then moved to TV was a mistake.

“Where the broadcasters went wrong with the digital revolution is they said 360 has to start online… Personally I feel that’s a bit of a mistake.”

Instead, he thinks that producers should look to enhance their TV offerings with online and digital content. “For us as TV producers, this is an opportunity to make telly more interesting and entertaining.”

Zodiak, he added, is investing a lot in “the two-screen experience”, because the way TV is being consumed by the younger generation is changing rapidly.

“Young kids are watching and communicating with their friends while watching TV. The digital platforms don’t replace TV, they enhance it.”

“We haven’t had a genre defining hit for a while … but this looks like an area that is ripe for exploitation,” he concluded.

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