News in Brief

Prince Edward's Ardent in trouble again; NATPE organizers ponder the future of its annual event; ZDF partners with Al-Jazeera.
January 24, 2002

Prince Edward‘s U.K.-based Ardent Productions has come under fire again, this time for allegations that X-Pats, a documentary about British citizens living in Singapore, largely consists of fabricated scenes. The London Daily Mirror broke the story after tracking down the program’s main subject, Corin Greenhow, who claimed the doc ‘was more like a fictional movie’. The U.K.’s Channel 5, which aired the program, is currently investigating Greenhow’s accusations, asserting that, ‘We undertook all reasonable inquiries concerning this program and Ardent Productions gave us no indication that there was any cause for concern.’ An Ardent spokesperson said the only statement the company has issued is the following from chairman Malcolm Cockren: ‘The program is genuine, there was no reconstruction. Edward Wessex was not involved. We welcome any investigation into the allegations and are happy to assist in any way.’

With attendance down more than 30%, NATPE organizers have launched a task force to study what the future might hold for the ailing market. Recommendations will be in by April.

Germany’s ZDF has signed an agreement with Qatar-based Al-Jazeera through which each will gain access to the other’s news footage and archive material.

In other ZDF news, the German pubcaster remains on the lookout for a new chief. Candidate Gottfried Langenstein failed to win the requisite three-fifths majority in a recent election, so another round of voting will take place on March 8. Current director Dieter Stolte will step down near the end of March, after 20 years in the top job.

The U.K.’s Channel 4 will report a loss for the first time in a decade, The Guardian reports. A drop in advertising income was pegged as the main culprit, with a decrease of more than five percent – or £30 million (US$42 million) – in 2001, as compared to the previous year.

The BBC plans an April 2 launch of BBC Broadcast – a wholly owned commercial subsidiary – pending government approval. Some of the services BBC Broadcast will offer are: channel branding, promotion and packaging; and channel management.

According to a report in The Guardian, BBC director general Greg Dyke told a House of Commons committee that, based on the pubcaster’s research, two million people would be willing to buy a digital TV box priced at £99 (US$140). The U.K. government’s goal is to phase out analog TV by 2006. So far, eight million of the country’s 24 million homes have converted.

Discovery Latin America/Iberia has announced a regional programming drive, with plans to get 50 hours of new, locally produced content onto the air beginning this year.

Canadian digichannel Movieola – The Short Film Channel has partnered with Slamdance Entertainment (a joint venture of the Park City-based Slamdance Festival and prodco Atlantic Streamline) to air Slamdance TV, a 26-part show that will feature selections and entries from the Slamdance fest. Slamdance TV will debut in April.

In the U.K., Pathe Productions, Tiger Aspect and Wark Clements were among 13 companies to receive US$50,000 to US$110,000 funding awards from the Media Plus European Funding Program. The Sheffield International Documentary Festival also picked up $9,000.

Paris-based non-fiction prodco Doc en Stock is expanding into dramatic features for TV and film with the launch of Film en Stock.

In a deal signed last week, Toronto’s CHUM Television will provide content and will help develop a format operation for Singapore’s RTV Broadband Services.

In Canada, VisionTV is actively canvassing for new proposals. New submission and content guidelines are now available on the channel’s website. Visit for details.

German archive Studio Hamburg Fernseh Allianz has launched a new 5,000-plus clip website. Visit it at:

The 26th Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival has put out a call for submissions. The festival will be open to suitable candidates from March 1 to May 10. For more details visit

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.