News in Brief

Frontrunners in race to head up C4 drop out; Peter Arnett reports from Afghanistan for BNN; Discovery Asia partners with Tourism New Zealand.
November 22, 2001

The race to replace outgoing Channel 4 head Michael Jackson has taken an unexpected turn. Both of the rumored top contenders – Dawn Airey, Channel 5‘s chief exec, and Peter Bazalgette, creative director of format giant Endemol – have taken themselves out of the running. Former BBC head of science Jana Bennett and BBC director of TV Mark Thompson are now thought to be strong candidates.

Ex-CNN reporter Peter Arnett has found a new home at New York-based Broadcast News Network. Arnett will serve as chief of CameraPlanet’s Correspondents unit, a division of BNN. Arnett won a Pulitzer Prize in 1966 for his coverage of the Vietnam War, and gained international attention as one of the few western journalists who remained in Iraq during the initial stages of the Gulf War. BNN plans to syndicate Arnett’s reports and sell them to news outlets around the world.

The Sundance Institute’s International Program has announced the creation of the Sundance Documentary Fund, formerly the Soros Documentary Fund. The Fund will continue to support international documentary films and videos on current and significant issues in human rights, freedom of expression, social justice, and civil liberties. The fund will begin accepting new proposals by December. Contact for more info or visit

The Sundance Institute recently announced the lineup for the second annual Sundance Online Film Festival. Twenty-one projects will participate in the event, including one documentary. Documenting the Face of America, directed by Jeanine Isabel Butler, will play in the Live Action section. The online fest runs December 20 to January 20 at AtomFilms is the sponsor.

Discovery Networks Asia has partnered with Tourism New Zealand for an integrated sponsorship deal valued at several million dollars. Components of the initiative include advertising, online, programming, on-board and marketing, with ad spots running in the U.S. on The Travel Channel and Discovery Channel, as well as on Discovery Channel Germany.

The Oxygen network will move from the digital tier to analog next month on Time Warner Cable‘s New York system. The shift increases the circulation of Oxygen from about 250,000 digital subscribers to 1.2 million basic customers.

The Banff Television Festival will honor A&E Television with an Outstanding Achievement award in 2002. Banff 2002, which runs from June 9 to 14, will also feature a special focus on Africa.

The International Wildlife Film Festival – Missoula (April 20 to 27, 2002) has issued a call for entries to partake in its silver jubilee event. Deadline is January 15, 2002. For more info, visit

Our Small Planet Productions is looking for international submissions for a report on the Earth Summit. The program will review the actions of the countries that signed the biodiversity/forests treaties in Rio in 1972. For more information, please contact Greg Krantz at

Nigel Pickard, controller of CBBC (the Beeb’s kids division), announced a budget of over £40 million (US$56million) for the pubcaster’s two new digital kids channels. To date, more than 700 hours of new programming have been commissioned across both the pre-school channel – re-branded Cbeebies – and the older children’s channel, which retains the CBBC tag. Although drama will dominate the CBBC Digital schedule, commissions are being issued across all genres, with observational docs as the focus of the factual offering.

In other BBC news, Walking With Beasts – the pubcaster’s £7 million (US$10 million) CG animated series – garnered 8.5 million viewers when it premiered on BBC One last Thursday night, according to unofficial overnight figures. Those numbers account for about a 35% share of viewing. The program was re-broadcast on the following Sunday afternoon, attracting 4.9 million viewers to the first channel. Walking With Dinosaurs won 15 million viewers when it premiered in October 1999, taking over 50% of audience share.

Canada’s CBC Television is asking for convergence-oriented pilots for its late-night TV/Web programming strand. The pilots will be broadcast as part of the strand’s launch; audiences will judge whether they should go into series development. Pilots should be five to 15 minutes in length and can span the genres. Submissions, which should include a three page outline, a pilot budget, team bios, a financing plan for series production, and a brief description of how to incorporate a Web component, can be sent to Deadline for submissions is December 10, 2001.

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.