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Fighting Terms of Trade and BBC inhouse

In recent months, it’s become clear that there’s a big question mark hanging over the future of the Terms of the Trade, the foundation stone of the UK’s thriving independent production sector.

Cash strapped broadcasters have, for some time, been chipping away at the Terms of Trade, which allow producers to hold onto and exploit the rights of the shows they make.

Now, though, it seems that broadcasters are determined to force a complete rethink of the Terms of Trade. This was given very public expression by BBC director general Mark Thompson’s MacTaggart speech in Edinburgh.

Taking a sidewipe at “the scale and ownership” of the independent sector – in other words the superindies – he said it was “the right time to take a fresh look at” indie and broadcaster deals.

Broadcaster thinking, it seems, is that indie producers, particularly the superindies, have got rich thanks to the Terms of Trade at the expense of the people who commission them.

Unfortunately, this pressure to rethink the Terms of Trade is happening just as the screw is being turned on the indie sector itself. Programme budgets are under acute pressure. And the BBC licence fee freeze means less money for new commissions.

Faced with such a stagnant market, indies have been thinking hard about where growth can possibly come from. And they have set their sights on campaigning to scrap inhouse production.

At an Edinburgh session titled ‘Are Superindies Bastards?’, Endemol boss Tim Hincks adeptly turned criticism away from superindies by openly questioning the existence of inhouse production.

Scrapping the BBC inhouse department, runs indie thinking, will lead to greater production efficiencies and creativity on screen – while also freeing up a lot of cash to be spent on independent production contracts.

Whatever the pros and cons of scrapping inhouse production or revising the Terms of Trade, it’s clear the relationship between producers and broadcasters is going to be rethought in the run up to the next Communications Act. Let the lobbying battle begin.

Posted 06 October 2010 by Tim Dams

Mipcom brightens up

Day two: The sun has come out in Cannes, lifting the mood at the Mipcom programme market after yesterday’s rain soaked and stormy affair.

As always when there is a big downpour here, the main market space, the Palais, began leaking and letting in water.

Even worse, companies which rented boats to do business found themselves in – literally – choppy water.

And pity poor Warner Bros, which took a pier-type stand which extended out from the beach and over the Med – last time I looked it was being buffeted by large waves and was looking very wind-swept and empty.

On the positive side, sellers say that the appalling weather yesterday forced buyers inside and towards their stands – leading to some good business.

The mood here is certainly upbeat. “It feels better than last time,” DRG chief executive Jeremy Fox said this morning. “There is more of a feeling of optimism and confidence.”

Here’s a digest of some of the deals announced today:

- BBC Worldwide Channels acquired new programming from distributors All3Media International, Endemol, and Zodiak Rights for its global BBC Knowledge channel including Genius¸ Secret Millionaire US, Joanna Lumley: Jewel In the Nile, Ross Kemp In The Middle East, Kevin McCloud’s Grand Tour and Derren Brown Investigates.

- ITV Studios Global Entertainment struck a distribution development deal with US production company Base Productions. The deal gives ITV Studios worldwide rights (excluding the US) to formats and series produced by Base, including Base’s Mystery 360.

- Banijay International sold BBC format The People’s Quiz to pan Middle Eastern broadcaster MBC. Licensed to Lebanon-based, Ideas Production, the 12 x 1-hr show is currently being filmed and will air in January 2011.

- Eagle Rock Entertainment announced international sales for Ladies and Gentlemen… The Rolling Stones (pictured). The re-mastered HD feature-length film, first released in 1974, sold to VH1 (US), WHD (Japan), Sky Arts (UK), ABC (Australia), HBO (Latin America), ZDF (Germany), SVT (Sweden) and Hi-Fidelity (Canada).

- Malaysia’s Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) unveiled two co-pro deals for kids’ properties Kung Fu Chicken and Red, Yellow & Blue. Animasia Studio (Malaysia), Agogo International (Hong Kong) and Neptuno Films (Spain) will co-produce 2d animated action adventure series Kung Fu Chicken (26 x 22-mins). Ed-Online Technologies (Malaysia), Scrawl Studios (Singapore) and Bryant Whittle (UK) will co-develop and co-produce animated pre-school series Red, Yellow & Blue (52 x 11-mins).

- BBC Worldwide sold Temple Street Productions’s second season of Wingin’ It to CBBC in the UK. It’s has also been picked up by Noga (Israel), NRK Super (Norway) and Top TV (South Africa).

- Nickelodeon USA picked up a second season of pre-school show Olivia from producer and distributor Chorion. The new series of 26 x 11-min episodes plus 1 x 22-min special will be delivered to Nickelodeon in the USA in November 2010. To date, the new series has been pre-bought by TF1 France, ABC TV Australia and the Disney Channel in Japan and Latin America.

Posted 05 October 2010 by Tim Dams

Hot PR in rainy Cannes

Day one: Mipcom has only been running a few hours, but already Televisual’s inbox has been deluged with press releases that breathlessly announce the latest ‘high profile deals’, ‘exciting new commissions’ and ‘highly anticipated series’ from ‘world leading producers’.

To save you wading through story after story about Mipcom deals, here’s a digest of those announced so far. A quick note: most of these deals were signed long before Mipcom, so say little about how the market is playing out so far. But, talking to producers and distributors here in Cannes, one gets the sense that they are pretty upbeat about prospects.

Meanwhile, for those of you not down in Cannes, you’ll be glad to know that is raining and very windy.

- Endemol, which routinely bills itself as ‘a world leader in entertainment programming’ in its press releases, has sold its US comedy series Hot in Cleveland to BSkyB. Produced by TV Land, it’s about three best friends from L.A. discover that they are hot in Cleveland - and decide to stay.

- The Walt Disney Company has sold new family drama series No Ordinary Family to UKTV’s Watch. About a family that develops super-powers, it premiered in the US on ABC on 28 September. Naturally, No Ordinary Family is a ‘highly anticipated series’, according to Disney.

- Nickelodeon and Chorion have teamed to develop and produce a new animated pre-school series based on Beatrix Potter’s The Tales of Peter Rabbit. Set to air in 2012, the series will feature Potter characters such as Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. Nickolodeon is, of course, ‘the number-one entertainment brand for kids.’

- ITV Studios announced a raft of new local productions in Ireland, Iran and Cyprus for its ‘phenomenally successful format’ Come Dine With Me – which is now made for 30 countries. Ireland’s TV3 has ordered 30 local episodes, which will be produced by ITV Studios in Ireland. Cyprus’ CYBC has signed 65 episodes. And new Iranian broadcaster Marjan Television has licensed 30 episodes which will be produced in the UK by Manoto 1 and feature Iranian diners and will then broadcast throughout Iran.

- FremantleMedia, which likes to describe itself on press releases as “one of the largest creators and producers of entertainment brands in the world”, launched its Mipcom 2010 slate. This included casting format My Name Is...(pictured above), and game shows Total Blackout and Face It. The most eyecatching show on its slate, however, was You Can’t Take It With You which is being made by TalkbackThames for BBC2. According to Fremantle, it “tackles head on the often unaddressed problems of dividing an estate and writing a will.” Billed as an emotional journey, it sees families decide who gets what, and why. The show is fronted - and mediated by - Gerry Robinson (Can Gerry Robinson Fix the NHS?)

- Discovery Channel is looking to top the UK’s landmark Walking with Dinosaurs series with its own prehistoric commission, Reign of the Dinosaurs, a six part series that – so we are told - “combines the latest paleontological research with Hollywood storytelling, combined with the talent of the world's best illustrators and animators.” Discovery’s sales arm is launching the title here and seeking international pre-sale. Reign of the Dinosaurs is being produced for Discovery Channel by US-based Creative Differences.

- Wipeout, a ‘global hit’ created by Endemol USA, has been commissioned for a ten episode pan-regional version by TVN in Poland, Nova TV in the Czech Republic, Markiza TV in Slovakia, Inter Channel in Ukraine and ONT in Belarus. The series will see contestants from all five territories battling it out across the show’s extreme obstacle course and will be filmed at Wipeout’s global production hub in Argentina.

- Shooting on the Euros 25m twelve-part series Borgia, produced by Atlantique Production/EOS and Canal +, begins today in Prague. Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall), it stars John Doman (ER, The Wire) as Rodrigo Borgia. The writer and producer of the series is Tom Fontana (Oz/HBO, Homicide/NBC). Beta Film is handling international sales of the English-language production.

- Last, but certainly not least, Red, “a company dedicated to raising awareness about Aids,” has partnered with HBO to create a 30 minute Spike Jonze documentary which records the life-restoring effects of Anti-retroviral drugs on four HIV-positive individuals from Lusaka, Zambia. Admirably, the documentary is being given away to broadcasters for FREE at this year’s Mipcom for them to broadcast on World Aids Day – 1st of December.

Posted 04 October 2010 by Tim Dams

Explosive climate campaign

Here’s an explosive climate change film from director Dougal Wilson and writer Richard Curtis for the 10:10 campaign.

It seems to be getting a pretty mixed reaction judging by some of the comments left on YouTube. The film looks good and the effects are strong. But the underlying message seems to be that if you don't do anything about your carbon emissions, you'll be targetted - even little children.

It was made through Spanner Films (Age of Stupid) and the vfx were by MPC. Dougal Wilson's recent credits include the acclaimed John Lewis ad Always a Woman.


Posted 01 October 2010 by Tim Dams
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