Kate Bulkley is covering MIPTV at Cannes for Deadline
Today sees huge changes in the British media landscape. Jeremy Hunt, the UK culture secretary, has approved Rupert Murdoch’s controversial bid to buy the 61% of pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB he does not already own. Hunt has decided not to refer News Corp’s £7.5 billion bid to UK antitrust regulator the Competition Commission. News Corp has offered to spin off news channel Sky News into a separate company. Rival news organisations have complained that News Corp would control too many news outlets if it owns Sky News and newspapers. Murdoch has offered to keep the loss-making news channel going for another 7-10 years. Sky News loses around £20 million ($33 million) each year. This approval is quite a milestone in seeing Rupert Murdoch becoming even more powerful.
EXCLUSIVE: Studio Lambert, the reality TV production company behind CBS’ Undercover Boss, has formed a production partnership deal with Nutopia, the production company launched by former Discovery Channel President and BBC Two controller Jane Root. All American versions of Nutopia’s U.K.-created formats will be produced in the the U.S. in …
Planning for Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton is still at an early stage – despite the wedding taking place on April 29th. The BBC is expected to lead TV coverage of the event, which may well be the most watched in TV history with an estimated 2.5 billion viewers expected to tune in globally. (Over 750 million tuned in to watch Prince Charles marry Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.) The BBC will definitely be filming next April’s wedding in high-definition. Now the Beeb has started thinking about filming the Royal Wedding in 3D as well as BSkyB. All broadcasters, including U.S. networks, will be jostling each other out of the way for best advantage along the route. Middleton will travel from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace in a glass coach. But it’s inside the Abbey, where space is at a premium, that the BBC will feed footage to other networks. “In order to avoid a bun-fight, you have one production crew which produces the event for TV and then everybody draws on the feed,” says one insider.
It is unclear yet whether Royal Wedding footage will be made freely available. The assumption is that U.S. broadcasters will be charged for pool footage from inside Westminster Abbey. That’s what happened with Prince William and Kate’s engagement interview on November 16. ITN filmed it and sold it internationally with revenue going to Prince William and Prince Harry’s charitable foundation. Overseas broadcasters were charged $2,350 for each minute of footage. Other countries charge for TV footage to state events. U.S. networks paid more than $5 million for the rights to show events surrounding President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. HBO paid $2.5 million, ABC $2 million and MTV over $500,000 to cover inauguration balls live. French TV broadcaster France 2 has exclusive TV rights to this summer’s July 2 wedding of Monaco’s Prince Albert – although it paid less than the 400,000 euros ($545,000) Monaco had been asking for.
UK cinema chains including Vue and Cineworld are keen to show the event live. Screening it in 3D would be even better. Tim Richards, CEO of Vue, tells me he’s waiting to hear which broadcaster will be leading coverage. Vue has nearly 700 movie screens. Richards says: “From all the research we’ve done, there’s huge pent-up demand to see the Royal Wedding live on 3D. The quality of the transmission means that it really does feel as if you’re there. Obviously nothing beats having front row seats in Westminster Abbey, but this would be the next best thing.” The idea is that watching the Royal Wedding live with around 300 other people will pack an emotional punch that watching it on TV at home just won’t have.
Company Pictures, the Brit production company which makes Skins for MTV, is “extremely surprised” by the show’s U.S. furor. Especially as the first three seasons of the raunchier Brit version aired on BBC America virtually without controversy — albeit with nudity pixillated and swearing dipped. The Brit version has just started its 5th season. The UK original has also been freely available on the Internet. Execs has been scratching their heads because the first U.S. episode of Skins was almost a shot-for-shot remake of the UK original – but with the bad language and drugs references toned down from the British version which was far stronger in its depiction of drugs, sex, abortion, and self-harm. The show has never been that controversial here. A psychiatric charity complained about the depiction of a counsellor beating one teenager to death with a baseball bat. But Channel 4 only received 11 complaints. Not the show itself but the promos for the show have caused a little consternation. The UK broadcaster showed a pub brawl in a promo that sparked criticism. And the advertising watchdog Advertising Standards Authority banned a poster promoting the show, showing teenagers taking part in an orgy. The ASA said the image “could cause serious or widespread offence” and shouldn’t be seen by children.
News Corp has balked at selling off Sky News to satisfy Brussels. Despite that nose-thumbing, the European Commission has extended from December 8 to December 22 the deadline for the first phase of its competition investigation of Rupert Murdoch’s £12 billion ($19 billion) takeover of BSkyB. What Brussels is worried …
Endemol today announced it has entered an exclusive development deal with UK production company Hotsauce TV, owned by one of the UK’s most well known entertainers and talk show hosts, Jonathan Ross. The deal will see Hotsauce TV working exclusively with Endemol in jointly creating and producing entertainment ideas for the UK and international markets. Endemol will also globally distribute programmes and formats that are developed as part of the deal. Ross is also coming back to the BBC. A keen amateur astronomer, he’s taking part in the astronomy show Stargazing Live for BBC2 airing in January, BBC TV boss Jana Bennett tells me. Ross was the BBC’s star chat show host until he resigned in January but “the door’s never been shut for Jonathan,” Bennett says. Ross will continue to separately work on his ITV chat show and a number of other presenting projects.
James Murdoch has warned the UK government that News Corp could move overseas if the regulator blocks its £7.8 billion ($12.5 billion) bid for BSkyB. News Corp’s European and Asian boss made the veiled threat talking to investment bank analysts in Barcelona. The government must decide whether it wants to risk “jeopardising an £8 billion investment in the UK” with a prolonged investigation, Murdoch said, noting that News Corp could relocate some of its most innovative projects to more “welcoming” countries if the UK blocks its bid for BSkyB. “From India to Italy and to Germany, countries are becoming more welcoming of investment and more welcoming of what we can bring,” Murdoch said.
“We’re hearing from Chinese TV stations that maybe they shouldn’t be doing business with us,” one BBC source tells me. “In the past this has happened with our news output but it’s very unusual for drama – it is fiction, after all.” It’s thought Chinese officials are feeling particularly sensitive about Sino-Anglo relations in a week that UK Prime Minister David Cameron has led a trade delegation to the country. The Beijing government is unhappy with the way the 9th series of Spooks (aka as MI5) has portrayed Chinese secret agents as either nefariously plotting to blow up London or hacking into US-Anglo cyber-security. One insider at Kudos, the independent TV producer which makes the show, tells me he’s surprised by China’s reaction. “There is no country that Spooks has not portrayed in an unflattering light — including our own,” he says. China represents a huge market for BBC Worldwide