After only three years of operation, the distribution arm of U.K. broadcaster Five has been slated to close its doors in the first quarter of 2003. The decision to shutter Five International came close on the heels of the Independent Television Commission (ITC) report in the U.K. that scolded broadcasters for cashing in on successful shows made by independent producers. One of the commission’s recommendations is that all public service broadcasters give indies the right to exploit their programs abroad. The proposal could become law this spring, when the next communication bill comes before the British government.
In a prepared statement, Five acting chief exec Nick Milligan said, ‘We had been planning this move for some time before the announcement of the itc’s recommendations, following its review of the program supply market. We agree with the thrust of their recommendations and see this move as a key step in embracing them, and building on our already excellent relationships with the independent production community.’
Danny Fenton, managing director of Zig Zag Productions in London, U.K., is pleased with the ITC’s recommendations, but says he’s sorry to see Five’s distrib arm go. ‘I was kind of surprised and slightly upset for them, because I thought they had a good team there.’ Zig Zag has produced several factual programs for Five, including Something About Beckham, Politicians Behaving Badly and Streakers, and had about half a dozen shows with Five International.
Looking forward, Fenton says, ‘I think that with the new legislation happening in the United Kingdom, we’re looking at bundling up our projects and trying to find a distributor to take them all together.’
Richard Milnes, who has been managing director of Five International since its inception, will continue to oversee the operation of the distrib unit until it finally shuts down in a few months.