UK Indie TV Production “A Very Sick Sector”
Independent TV producers in the UK are maximizing profits by staying safe. A new study suggests pressure to produce commercially successful TV and shy away from risk has resulted in a tripling of annual revenue to $1B in the last 10 years. The 2003 Communications Act gave show ownership rights to independent producers. As these companies seek to sell their content internationally, they’re competing with UK public service broadcasters like the BBC and Channel 4. So producers are moving away from “blue chip documentary” in favor of unscripted or reality entertainment. Increased pressure on production budgets has resulted in “a very sick sector” with production workers feeling the sting. According to one study interviewee, “Pay scales are down, working conditions are atrocious, exploitation is massive, training levels have fallen through the floor.” As the UK government reviews the 2003 Act, the report recommends that terms should not favor independent producers further. –Joe Utichi
Japan To Get ‘SNL’ On Hulu A Few Hours After U.S.
Hulu Japan has signed a content deal with Broadway Video Entertainment to receive the most current season of Saturday Night Live in Japan. SNL just launched its 38th season on September 15th and the debut episode became exclusively on Hulu Japan a few hours later the next day. Each SNL episode will be available in English … Read More »
North America is still the UK’s biggest single TV export market, accounting for 41% of all overseas sales. But selling finished programmes, rather than formats remains as hard as ever, according to UK producers’ trade body Pact in its annual export survey. Australia and New Zealand were last year’s fastest-growing territory, up 32%. That’s the second year running Australasia has seen the fastest growth. In total, sales of British TV programmes overseas rose 9% to £1.34 billion. Sales of finished shows, the UK’s largest source of TV income, accounted for 43% of the increase in total revenue, rising 10% to £549 million. Format sales were even stronger, rising 25% to £119 million. And revenue from UK producers making foreign versions of their own programmes rose by 123% to £41 million.
He joins Rhys Ifans, Anna Friel and Bob Hoskins in the two-part miniseries that Sky Movies HD and Syfy are co-producing. Nick Willing is writing and producing this Peter Pan prequel, which Sky Movies HD is financing with Syfy. Currently in production in Genoa, Italy and Dublin, Ireland, Neverland is slated to air in 2011. Irish indie Parallel Films is the producer. Read More »
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.
That’s what CEO Dawn Airey told senior managers at a group meeting this morning. Richard Desmond, Five’s new owner, told Sky News that he’s planning to invest £50-100 million ($77-155 million) in Five’s schedule. He can afford it. The Sunday Times Rich List has estimated his personal fortune to be just under £1 billion.
But before Hollywood executives start popping the California champagne, they should know Desmond plans to renegotiate some of Five’s studio deals. This is because many of Five’s current studio deals are loss-making. It has to pay out every time it screens a movie, rarely making enough ad revenue back to cover the cost.
Desmond has underlined his desire to keep US shows such as CSI though as well as Australian soap Home and Away. Indeed, he doesn’t have an option with Home and Away. Five is tied into a lifetime deal for the soap.
Other programming ideas mooted include reviving BBC pop chart show Top of the Pops and taking Big Brother over from Channel 4, splitting revenue with Endemol. Desmond’s papers have a strong relationship with the reality show. Forget Afghanistan or the economic crisis: the front page of tabloid Daily Star always splashes with what’s going on inside the Big Brother house.
Airey told senior managers this morning that Desmond’s team from his company Northern & Shell are going to spend several weeks getting to know the business before making any decisions about the channel’s future direction.
However, Airey … Read More »
Film GB will launch on November 1 with six brand-new British features never seen on TV before. The British film channel will show mainly indie films, screening classic movies in the afternoons. Electric Sofa, the channel operator, thinks there’s plenty of demand for a British film channel.
Electric Sofa is also launching a US indie film channel, licensing movies from mainly US sales agents, plus a general tabloid-feeling entertainment channel with docs about celebs.
Andrew Burns, joint MD of Electric Sofa, used to be COO of another BSkyB film channel, Film 24. That went into liquidation in May despite increasing its weekly audience from 240,000 to 800,000 year-on-year. Former owner Angad Paul owns indie sales agent AV Pictures. “The board decided that the channel just wasn’t growing fast enough despite the audience growth,” one insider tells me. What Burns took away from that experience was that a standalone film channel just doesn’t work. You need to have at least three channels you can sell advertising across.
Private investors are putting up cash for the channel launch. Distributors are being offered equity in exchange for licensing their films. Three channel sponsors have already come on board. Burns and fellow MD Ursula Adeane are talking to advertisers.
Given that around half the films made in Britain each year never get picked up for cinema release, producers will be pleased to know there’s somebody out there willing to give their films a TV airing. … Read More »
The Isle of Man-based equity investor has announced its first TV drama, a six-part thriller for the BBC. Until now CinemaNX has invested in features, covering up to 100% of the budget. Company Pictures (Skins) is making The Shadow Line, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) and Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who). Stephen Rea and Anthony Sher also feature. The writer/director is Hugo Blick (Marion and Geoff), who also produces. Company is making the conspiracy thriller with Blick’s regular producer Baby Cow. The Shadow Line will screen in 2011.
CinemaNX is always the lead investor in projects, which must shoot a minimum of 50% of their schedule in this small island off Liverpool. Ecosse Films is currently making romantic comedy The Decoy Bride on the Isle of Man, starring David Tennant, another ex-Doctor Who.
It’s also been releasing its own features through a tie-up with UK cinema chain Vue. Two features have been self-released this way, Me and Orson Welles and The Disappearance of Alice Creed. Next up for distribution are Chico and Rita and Albatross. It is also editing 3D motorcycling documentary TT3D about the famous Isle of Man TT race.
Other UK financiers tell me they cannot understand how CinemaNX keeps funding films when features like Me and Orson Welles and The Disappearance of Alice Creed do so poorly at the UK box office. However, I’m told that Orson Welles has washed its face, while The Disappearance of Alice Creed has been a … Read More »