Carlton International Media has partnered with PBS and the CPB to create a US$20 million fund for copros over the next three years. Carlton contributed $10 million, with PBS and CPB each contributing $5 million, in an effort that will serve indie producers in the U.S. and the U.K., as well as PBS stations. The first project to benefit from the fund is a TV mystery entitled Skin Walkers, produced by Robert Redford’s Santa Monica-based prodco Wildwood Enterprises. According to Rupert Dilnott-Cooper, CEO of CIM in London, ‘The two program types absolutely key at the moment are drama and documentaries… Sometimes [docs] are the easiest to do, in terms of international carriage. PBS has a very good track record in that area.’
Projects will be carried on PBS’ main feed, the National Program Service, but Carlton will retain international distribution rights. Says Dilnott-Cooper, ‘Our objective is to get access to internationally marketable programming, so [the fund] is partly about putting European programming on PBS, and partly about funding American programming and selling it internationally.’
A review board, consisting of two members from PBS and two from Carlton, will decide on grants after U.S. ideas are screened through the PBS system and European ideas are screened through Carlton’s system. Part of the revenue generated from program sales will then serve to replenish and sustain the fund. ‘Our distribution revenues will go toward recouping our share of the investment, then excess money will go into a pool to share with PBS. PBS revenues recoup their share of the investment, and any further U.S. money goes into the same pool. Both parties are profit sharers,’ explains Dilnott-Cooper.