News Bites from MIPDOC

Number of buyers and sellers is down; Discovery launches HD TV network; and S4C International signs multiple coproduction deals.
April 18, 2002

Final MIPDOC figures count 335 buyers (down from 351 last year), 192 sellers (down from 243 last year) and 1,328 programs (up from 1144 last year).

Discovery will launch a 24-hour high definition TV network, billed as Discovery HD Theater, on June 17. Programming will span the genres, from science and nature to travel and how-to.

Discovery Channel has partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to help raise awareness for endangered languages and cultural traditions. The partnership, facilitated by the UN Works Program, has UNESCO providing Discovery with information and access to experts involved in maintaining linguistic diversity. In turn, Discovery will create program vignettes, outreach and on-air promotions that will broadcast in 154 countries worldwide beginning February 2003. Rick Rodriguez, executive VP of international content for Discovery Networks International, said he expects some programming ideas will grow out of the initiative.

Granada Entertainment won its first commission from Discovery Networks Europe for a format called What’s the Big Idea? The program, which will give aspiring inventors the chance to share their ideas, will air on the Discovery Channel.

National Geographic Television & Film‘s Film Library has signed an agreement with ABC in Australia for the latter to provide news stories and footage to U.S. broadcasters via Newsreel, Nat Geo’s syndication news service. ABC will account for about 25% of Newsreel‘s content.

S4C International in Wales and France 5 have signed a US$600,000 coproduction deal for a 3×60-minute science series called Mountains and Man. London-based Principal Films will produce.

S4C has also signed a copro deal with Australia’s Beyond International, for a three-part series called Stories of the Stone Age, which carries a budget of US$900,000. Beyond Productions will produce.

PBS’ New York outlet Thirteen/WNET revealed more details about its new Wide Angle strand. The idea is to air programs about the world, but not just from the point-of-view of Americans. This presents opportunities for international producers to get involved. Stephen Segaller, director of news and public affairs, will executive produce the strand and estimates per-program budgets will average US$175,000, but could rise to $500,000. The series, which debuts in July, will consist of 10 one-hour one-offs. Five spots are still available, and WNET is open to coproductions, commissions and acquisitions, although Segaller says at least two acquisitions is the working assumption. Projects of particular interest will focus on the environment, Africa and Southeast Asia.

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