‘Australia’s Got Talent’ Finds a New Home
The Nine Network has picked up Australia’s Got Talent less than 24 hours after the Seven Network pulled the plug on the show after six seasons. Ratings for the FremantleMedia-produced show based on Simon Cowell’s format flagged this year against Nine’s The Voice. But it was a consistent ratings winner last year, averaging 1.8 million viewers per episode. Nine intends to freshen up the format and hire new judges; the judges on Seven’s show were singers Dannii Minogue and Brian McFadden and shock jock Kyle Sandilands. The new AGT is expected to launch in the second half of 2013, possibly against Seven’s top-rating The X Factor. – Don Groves

Australian Pay Channels Invest $A667M in Local Content But Penetration is Stuck at 34%
Australia’s pay-TV channels and platforms invested a record $A667M ($691M) in Australian content in 2011-12, up 13% on the prior year, according to the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association. However ASTRA reported zero growth in pay-TV penetration which is 34% of TV homes, flat with a year ago. ASTRA’s annual content investment and employment survey highlighted growing international sales of pay-TV commissioned programming including Cloudstreet, Grand Designs Australia, Camp Orange, Kings Cross ER, Killing Time and Australia’s Great Flood. Light entertainment was the most popular genre in pay-TV homes, accounting for 22% of viewing time, with programs such as Live: Australia’s Next Top Model, Selling Houses Australia, Christmas Lights Spectacular, Grand Designs Australia and Rove LA. Sport was next with 16%, with children’s at 13%, documentaries 12% and lifestyle 10%. Interestingly given pay-TV platform Foxtel’s acquisition of the Showtime movie channels owned by Sony, Paramount, NBCUniversal, Fox and Liberty Media, and ongoing negotiations to buy the other major service, The Movie Network, from WB, Disney, Village Roadshow and MGM, movies accounted for just 9% of total viewing. Drama also registered 9%, with news/current affairs at 3%. The survey showed the industry employed 6,461 people, with 4,657 staff engaged by ASTRA members in salaried, part time or contract positions. – Don Groves

Chello Zone, CBS To Roll Out Channel Portfolio In Europe, Middle East, Africa
London-based broadcaster and distributor of thematic television channels, Chello Zone and CBS Studios International have received regulatory approval to launch a newly rebranded suite of CBS channels across Europe, the Middle East and Africa on December 3. The CBS Chello Zone EMEA partnership said in August that it would extend the reach of the CBS channel portfolio to a further 83 territories, building on the successful UK venture for CBS-branded channels that Chello Zone launched in November 2009. The new-look channels include CBS Reality, CBS Drama, CBS Action and CBS Europa. They will be reprogrammed to include series and TV movies from CBS’s library of over 70,000 hours. Third party content will also be available.

Dubai Festival Announces Muhr AsiaAfrica Contenders
The Dubai International Film Festival has unveiled the lineup for its Muhr AsiaAfrica Awards. Now in their seventh year, the awards honor works from areas outside of the traditional film industry centers. There is a top purse of $50,000 for best feature and a $40,000 award for best film. Other kudos also come with cash payments. The 2012 competition includes Brillante Mendoza’s surrogacy drama Thy Womb; Hussayin Tabak’s Your Beauty Is Worth Nothing about a Turkish boy living as a refugee in modern-day Vienna; Vahid Vakilifar’s dystopian road movie Taboor; documentary My Afghanistan: Life In The Forbidden Zone by Nagieb Khaja; Wang Bing’s Venice Film Festival Horizons winner San Zimei – Three Sisters; Zeki Demirkubuz’s Inside, a take on Dostoevsky’s Notes From The Underground; Zeze Gomboa’s con artist comedy The Great Kilapy; Alain Gomis’ Today about a man’s surreal last day on earth; James Leong and Lynn Lee’s The Great North Korean Picture Show, a look inside the secretive domestic film industry and omnibus documentary Kahrizak, Four Views, a story set in a nursing home told by directors: Rakhshan Banietemad, Pirooz Kalantari, Mohsen Amir Yosefi and Bahman Kiarostami.

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