News in Brief

CPB and WGBH publish guide for educational producers; TV funds cut in Canada; Discovery puts the 'Spotlight' on socio/political topics
February 20, 2003

The Washington, D.C.-based Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Boston pubcaster WGBH have prepared a new guide for makers of educational programming. Enhancing Education: A Producer’s Guide includes advice on topics such as outreach and researching educational sources and includes case studies. It can be accessed online at

The Canadian Television Fund has had its money belt tightened by the Government of Canada to CDN$75 million (US$50 million) annually from CDN$100 million ($64 million). In a federal budget released February 18, the government unveiled plans to provide CDN$150 million over two years. The CTF had received CDN$100 million annually since 1996. About 20% of the Fund is earmarked for documentaries, CTF spokesman Phil Serruya told RealScreen Plus.

Bethesda, U.S.-based Discovery Channel has launched a new doc strand ‘to provide context, understanding and insight into today’s most important social, political and historical subjects.’ The strand, called ‘Spotlight’, premieres February 26 and runs the last Wednesday of each month.

A&E International has brokered a deal that sees New York, U.S.-based A&E’s History Channel moving into several Asian territories. History Channel will now be carried in Indonesia on Metro TV, and in Malaysia and Brunei on a variety of channels affiliated with TV provider Astro. As well, affiliate agreements have been extended in China with Sun TV and in Australia with Foxtel. The new blocks are scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2003 and include programming from The History Channel’s catalog.

Washington, D.C.-based Intelsat has entered into an US$136 million agreement to provide a new pay-television service in Hong Kong. By partnering with Hong Kong-based Television Broadcasts, Intelsat gains a 51% stake in Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting, a multi-channel digital channel offering Cantonese and other Chinese language programming, including documentaries.

TalkBack Thames is the name of the new company formed by the merging of U.K. prodcos TalkBack and Thames. FremantleMedia, the parent of the merger announced February 13, says programming produced by TalkBack Thames will be branded as though the merging companies are separate operations. TalkBack specializes in comedy and factual programs, Thames popular drama and entertainment. See People on the Move for the resulting management changes.

Film Movement, a subscription-based DVD/film distributor in Fairlawn, U.S., has teamed up with to launch an online Q&A program to help fiction and non-fiction filmmakers conduct business. Called Virtual Producer’s Lab, the program features advice from Film Movement founder and CEO Larry Meistrich for financing, producing, distributing and marketing projects. One filmmaker each month will also be chosen to receive an in-depth consultation from Meistrich regarding their project.

Specialty television services in Canada experienced an average annual growth of 17.5% between 1998 and 2002, with revenues increasing by 91% to reach CDN$1.4 billion (US$930 million) in 2002, according to a government report released February 17. The Ottawa-based Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission also disclosed that over the same period, revenues for pay and pay-per-view television services increased an average of 28% per year, for a total of 166% and nearly CDN$333 million ($221 million) in 2002. Spending on Canadian programming more than doubled, with companies operating specialty services in 2002 investing 43% of their total revenues or CDN$584 million ($388 million) in Canadian programming. Also in 2002, pay and pay-per-view television services spent more than CDN$43 million ($29 million) on home-made programming.

Sherman Oaks, U.S.-based prodco/distributor GRB Entertainment disclosed February 18 a new distribution deal with MTV Networks to offer the entertainment company’s reality and factual programs, such as their one-hour one-off copro Graveside Groupies.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.