News in Brief

Discovery Canada and ABC Australia partner for science; HBO lets loose on clip sales; the Canadian Television Fund finds more dollars for docs
June 12, 2003

Discovery Channel Canada and The Australian Broadcasting Corporation are joining forces to encourage the coproduction of science docs. On June 11 at the Banff Television Festival, the channels announced plans to support up to four science projects through a development fund open to indie producers in Canada and Australia; their shared contribution will be CDN$160,000 (US$118,000). Applications can be sent immediately (and separately) to Discovery Canada and ABC.

HBO has decided to loosen its grip on its program clips and make them available for licensing. The U.S. pay channel’s sports division, which includes its ‘World Championship Boxing’ programs and specials, is the first programming area to open its archives to outsiders. HBO’s future plans are to broaden the licensing opportunities to its non-sports holdings, including historical and contemporary footage of nature, landmark and lifestyle scenes.

The Canadian Television Fund (CTF) has awarded CDN$12.6 million (US$9.3 million) to 70 French and English documentaries this spring from its Equity Investment Program (EIP). In unveiling the information June 10, the CTF said it also granted CDN$2.5 million (US$1.8 million) to 16 aboriginal docs. The money granted represents roughly half to two-thirds of the total amount requested. The release of this funding report comes shortly after the Canadian government allocated an additional $12.5 million to the CTF June 6. A welcome increase in money, it nevertheless amounts to an advance offered against the government’s CDN$75 million (US$55.5 million) fund contribution next year.

Although Martha Stewart no longer sits at the head of her multimedia empire, loyal fans will continue to see her serene visage on HGTV and Food Network in the U.S. Cindy McConkey, VP of communications for the Scripps Networks, told RealScreen Plus that both cable channels will continue to air the domestic diva’s popular show Martha Stewart Living. ‘We feel it is not the role of our networks to play judge and jury, nor have we received significant negative feedback from either our viewers or our advertisers regarding the airing of these shows,’ she noted. Stewart stepped down as chairman and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia following news that she will face a criminal investigation for alleged insider trading.

London, U.K.-based Explore International and Marseille, France-based St. Thomas Productions have agreed to work together to produce a number of blue-chip natural history programs. As part of the two-year deal, Explore will have exclusive international distribution rights to eight hours of new shows. Projects associated with the deal include St. Thomas’s 52-minute Scavengers of the Seas, a sequel to the prodco’s 52-minute Scavengers of the Savannah.

Dr. Joann Fletcher, an Egyptologist backed by The Discovery Channel, may have discovered the mummy of ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. The Silver Spring, U.S.-based cable channel has been funding Fletcher’s research as part of its ‘Discovery Channel Quest’ initiative, which aims to support scientists at the vanguard of their field. Discovery will broadcast a two-hour special about her expedition, coproduced by London, U.K.-based Atlantic Productions, in August.

Corus Entertainment has launched a program to financially back Italian and Hispanic television programs in Canada. The CDN$1.1 million (US$815,000) Corus Telelatino Fund is seeking proposals for all types of genres, including documentaries. Only programs that can demonstrate interest from multilingual Toronto station TLN Telelatino will be considered for the money. TLN Telelatino is available in approximately 3.5 million households in the country.

Canamedia, a Toronto-based prodco/distributor of documentaries, has been made the exclusive Canadian representative for the ITN Archive. The 14 libraries include Reuters, ITN, Visnews, Channel 4 Archive, FilmFour clip sales, Tinseltown and Airtime.

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