March 1, 1999


* Discovery People and Arts will launch in Portugal at the end of April. The channel is a joint effort between DCI, the BBC and Portugal’s TV Cabo. * MacGillivray Freeman Film’s large format effort, Everest, has reached the $75 million plateau for box office receipts on its first year anniversary. * Animal Planet has launched into the Philippines. * Canal+ has won its suit against cable ops in the Netherlands and Belgium. The operators have been ordered to carry the premium channel in all its multiplexed versions, and were reprimanded for taking unfair advantage of their monopoly positions by charging excessive carriage fees for the Canal+ signal. * Discovery Networks International has launched a daily, hour-long educational initiative throughout Australasia, which will allow teachers to build a video library by home taping. * E! Poland will launch on April 1 on the @Entertainment platform. A co-venture with London’s Zone Vision, the channel will be available to 800,000 subscribers. * Tiger Aspect has won the Best Independent Producer award at the Broadcast Production Awards for their diversity of productions in `98. * TV France can look forward to a 30% increase in their funding for fiscal `99. The new (US$2.85 million) budget will be mostly funneled into marketing activities. * The History Channel has opened a London office, fronted by Michael Yorick, who is director of affiliate relations. * The British Patent office has rejected a bid to trademark the face of Princess Diana. Had it been approved, the patent (filed by the Diana Memorial Fund), would have stopped any unauthorized – i.e. unpaid – use of images of the late Princess. * The Film Bank has added the library of KLAS-8 to their collection. The Las Vegas news station’s archive contains a wealth of both historical and entertainment material. * The search engine recently topped 100,000 search requests. * Getty Images has announced a 96% increase over fourth-quarter results from the previous year, topping US$50 million (before deductions). Electronic commerce sales reached more than 15% of total sales. * ZDTV has announced a carriage deal into Mexico on Monterrey Cable Vision, a carrier with 80,000 subscribers. * New York’s SPI International has announced the opening of a satellite office in Korea. * ARTE has been named the 1999 winner of the Global Outstanding Achievement Award at the Banff Television Festival. * Technicolor has formed a new off-shoot that will specialize in film restoration. Aptly dubbed The Technicolor Film Restoration Company, the new company will be headquartered in a new facility beside the current laboratories. * ESPN has signed a deal with Cablevision to make the sportscaster available to 250,000 new homes in Mexico City.


C4 budgets boom

Channel 4 will be able to allocate almost £90 million more into programming and expansion now that they’ve been relieved of their obligations to ITV’s funding formula by the ITC. C4′s last funding formula payment will be for 1998. C4′s total programming budget will rise to £375 million, but drama will be the main recipient of the windfall. The increase will also allow C4 to dump an additional £44 million into digital expansion.

ProSieben looks to launch

Germany’s ProSieben Group has applied to the Bavarian State Office for New Media for a license for a new, 24-hour, continuously-updated news station. Set to hit the air in 2000, N24 will place special emphasis on economic and business coverage. The money for the DM 50 million cable and satellite operation will come from the coffers of ProSieben and Kabel 1. Initially, 30% household penetration is expected, rising to 70% before 2004.

Canal+/BSkyB talks fail

At RealScreen press time, merger talks between French pay-tv operator Canal+ and U.K. satellite broadcaster BSkyB were reported to have collapsed. Reports named Canal+’s insistence that the merged company be French and be run by French senior execs as the reason for the breakdown. courtesy


After a decade at E! Entertainment, senior vice president Chris Fager has left the network to pursue personal interests.

Robert F. Buenting has been named Discovery Networks U.S. senior vice president and chief financial officer. Buenting makes the move to DCI from CBS, where he was vice president of finance and the strategic planning group.

French distributor Gaumont has appointed Ed Galton as vice president of international sales. Galton joins Gaumont from Fox Lorber Associates in New York, where he was director of international sales for Europe.

Canal+ in France has appointed Nathalie Neuman as chief of staff and special advisor to the chairman. Neuman has been at the company since 1989, when she started as the head of drama purchasing.

Scott R. Wyerman has been named National Geographic Television’s vice president of research for the new Program Enterprises Group.

John Ford, TLC’s former senior VP programming, has been named to the post of president of Discovery Health Media.

Mary Hicks has been appointed National Geographic Channels Worldwide’s new vice president of marketing and communications. Hicks was formerly creative director for Channels, as well as for National Geographic Television.

Dagmar Brandenstein is leaving ISL Television in London to have a baby. Her successor in the role of managing director will be current senior vice president and head of sales, David Schiller.

New York’s Broadcast News Network has hired best-selling crime author and former Manhattan prosecutor, David Heilbroner, as senior producer for their reality-based Crime Stories for Court TV. Some of Heilbroner’s works include Death Benefit, Rough Justice and Red Light Special.

Boston’s Big Blue Dot has found a new studio head in Jan Craige Singer, a former vice president.

Carole Black has been named president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services. Black, who is currently president and general manager of NBC4 in L.A., will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the channel.

L.A.’s Team Communications Group has a new vice president of development and production in the form of Jane Sparango.

Jon Clark has been named as the new director of programming for Knowledge TV. Clark was formerly an executive producer with KTV.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.