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ITV To Start Charging For Internet Extras

Adam Crozier, CEO of UK broadcaster ITV, has suggested making viewers pay for extra content, such as alternative endings. At one point he talked about charging Brit TV viewers to watch hugely popular soap Coronation Street first online, but rowed back from that. Crozier was speaking at the Royal Television Society international conference in London this afternoon. Everything on ITV.com is free at present. Crozier said his top priority is to invest in ITV.com, which he said had been woefully underfunded. The ITV boss reiterated that 50% of revenue must come from pay-TV, online and selling formats overseas, compared with 26% today. He’s not interested in making shows available on content aggregators such as Hulu though. TV commissions will be influenced by how they translate online, he said. “The first thing we need to turn is turn ITV.com into a really robust site,” said Crozier, who joined ITV as CEO in April. Increasing the amount of programming produced in-house by production arm ITV Studios is another priority. In-house only accounts for 47% of programme commissions, he said – and drops to 16% if you strip long-running soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale out. ITV is looking to acquire independent production companies to beef up ITV Studios. “We need to focus on more long-running renewable series,” he said. “Owning more rights is key to our future.” Crozier said that ITV’s historic problems haven’t stemmed from not knowing what to do but “a … Read More »

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Jeff Bewkes: ‘Network TV Has Whip-Hand Over YouTube And iTunes’

Time Warner’s chairman and CEO says he asks what TV aggregators can do for his channels rather than the other way round. “New entrants such as Google , Amazon and Apple must support or improve programming going into the marketplace,” said Bewkes, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference in London this afternoon. For example, Time Warner keeps full-length shows off YouTube. The Time Warner boss predicted a shake-out among internet companies. Whatever was new on the internet, whether it’s a Google search engine or Facebook social media, tends to be winner takes all, he said.

Bewkes argued that with TV shows such as Boardwalk Empire, which will come to UK Sky next year, TV is having its 2nd golden age. Partly this is because TV has kept pace with technology, from digital to HD to 3D. “We’re in the midst of a TV renaissance,” Bewkes tub-thumped. Bewkes singled out UK-originated shows such as Shameless, The Office, American Idol and X Factor as examples of quality TV. “The cultural impact of TV is now greater than movies. TV has become the most innovative medium in pop culture today. And it comes from increasing quality. Television is very healthy right now; TV is the only medium which has increased its audience apart from the internet.”

Given that 80% of Time Warner revenue comes from TV, Bewkes said he’d restructured the media giant as mainly a video programming business. “AOL was meant … Read More »

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UK Broadcasters Could Be Forced To Carry Local News Bulletins

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt raised the possibility of Sky also being told to run local news, at least in the short term. Otherwise it could risk being demoted on where it sits on electronic TV listings. Hunt thinks that Sky and other broadcasters will end up paying local TV news suppliers because local news will prove popular. He’s asked UK communications regulator Ofcom to look into local TV news provision. Hunt, speaking at this morning’s Royal Television Society International Conference in London, raised the possibility of public broadcasters who invest in local news ranking higher on the Electronic Programme Guide. But Hunt ducked the question as to whether broadcasters who ignore local news will find themselves in turn demoted. The coalition culture secretary said that being on the first page of the EPG is worth £30 million ($48 million) a year in terms of revenue to a broadcaster. “I think that ITV and Channel 4 will both want to play their part,” Hunt told the RTS. “They get considerable benefit from their public service broadcaster status.” With analogue TV soon to be switched off here, where you sit on the EPG – ranked alongside 100s of other channels – is becoming increasingly important. As more and more households switch to digital television, a prominent position becomes increasingly important for the main channels to attract viewers from their smaller rivals.

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UK Government To Scrap Rules Stopping Local Press From Running TV Stations

Local TV channels don’t exist here the way they do in the States. If anything, TV has been going in reverse, with the regional ITV Network having bigger and bigger footprints. UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt will confirm Tuesday morning that he’s abolishing local cross-media ownership restrictions. Hunt will unfavourably compare the UK to the US, where people can typically watch 6 local TV stations. Hunt will also announce that a new Communications Act will go before Parliament late 2012. The last Communications Act revolutionised the way TV producers do business. Hunt is giving the domestic keynote at tomorrow’s Royal Television Society conference in London. Jeff Bewkes, CEO and chairman of Time Warner — who last week unveiled a major shake-up at Warner Bros — will give the international keynote.

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