New BBC Chief Says “Best Days Lie Ahead”
Today was the first day on the job for the BBC’s new director general, Tony Hall. The broadcaster’s former head of news returned to the Beeb after more than a decade as CEO of the Royal Opera House. The organization he confronted today is in far different shape than it was when he left. After going into crisis mode last October when the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal broke open, the BBC was rocked by the mishandling of a Newsnight report that mistakenly identified a senior politician as an alleged pedophile. Those events led to the resignation of former director general George Entwistle after only 54 days on the job. Mark Thompson, Entwistle’s predecessor, left in September to become CEO of The New York Times Company and under his watch austerity measures were put in place after the license fee that was frozen until 2017. Two major unions went out on strike at the BBC last Thursday in protest over what was referred to as “a modern-day BBC sweatshop” along with bullying claims at the company. Hall made a handful of appointments prior to starting at the BBC, but has yet to name a head of news or head of television. In an email to staff today, he said, “With imagination and hard work, the BBC’s best days lie ahead of us.”

HBO, Canal Plus Pact For Series
HBO and Canal Plus have entered an agreement that will see the latter take second window pay-TV rights to all HBO series for the next five years. Covered in the deal are such shows as Girls, The Newsroom and Cinemax’s Banshee which it will have in the first window.

Chinese TV Documentary Market Grows
The next Chinese boom sector? TV documentaries. Revenues from the industry skyrocketed from $64.5M in 2009 to $241.9M in 2011, according to a new report. Researchers at Beijing Normal University found that better quality films and wider distribution were partly responsible for the uptick. Since 2011, eight doc channels have been added in China with 8,700 hours of programming. Documentaries on world history and international views, and elite and consumer culture are moving into the mainstream, the report said. Overseas sales were also healthy, reaching $3.55M

Bona Film Group Reports Drop In Profits
China’s Bona Film Group reported Q4 figures on Monday with revenues up slightly to $53.2M from $52.6M in the same quarter of 2011. But profits were down to $10.1M from $20.9M. Bona chief Yu Dong noted the strategic investment brought by News Corp. which in May acquired 19.9% of the company. However, he said, “Our financial results were impacted by a weak fourth quarter, which was largely attributable to the delayed release of The Grandmasters, lower-than-expected box office receipts for The Last Tycoon and increased start-up costs associated with new theater openings.” The company pacted in 2012 to co-produce multiple Chinese-language pics with Fox International Productions and signed a co-production term sheet with Universal and Working Title for the joint production and distribution of a romantic drama. Bona is also expanding into TV production and adding moviehouses throughout China.

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