The new Granada International – a merger between London-based distrib ITEL and Granada’s existing arm – is keen to maintain the strong ties with independent producers that ITEL had established, says John Drury, recently appointed head of factual and wildlife for Granada International. ‘We are inheriting the ITEL package quite happily. What we’re trying to do is not make changes, but integrate it into what we’re doing as well.’ Granada took over ITEL as part of a larger deal with United News and Media.
One fact indies should keep in mind is that a significant part of Granada International’s new strategy is a sharper focus on specific genres. Says managing director Nadine Nohr, ‘There will be consolidation around the main strands and the areas that we believe are of core strength. It will be quite wide, [but] we do need to consolidate around certain areas within factual. With the historical portfolio of the new company, wildlife has to be a key area – not just because it’s there, but because it’s still an area that offers a lot of opportunities.’ Nohr says there are other areas of primary interest, but explains she could not comment on them as of press time.
Richard Sattin, CEO of London-based prodco Principal Films, says he expects business as usual. ‘The transition from one distribution company to another will be seamless. Principal has a deal in which we develop a certain number of series in cooperation with ITEL for international distribution. That deal will transfer directly to Granada.’
Alex Graham of London’s Wall to Wall concedes he is a bit unsure, however. ‘I guess I’m slightly nervous that because Granada is such a big fish, Wall to Wall will get lost in the much bigger organization. There will be so much else going on – but then I feel it’s our job [to get their attention].’ Graham notes that in six years with ITEL, the distrib came to invest not only in the prodco’s programs, but in the Wall to Wall brand itself. ‘I think the key issue for me is, will Granada want to go on having that relationship with a company like Wall to Wall? I hope it will because I think we have a lot to offer, and the early signs are [that they want to continue]. But, Granada had a reputation for not being particularly keen to work with other producers because they’re such a powerful producer themselves.’
While Drury acknowledges Granada’s commitment to in-house production, he says companies like Wall to Wall and Principal have proven themselves as producers of a wide range of programming, including high-end event shows, which he sees as important. ‘It’s obvious that they’re the kind of people who play to the strong genres in the market.’