When the U.S. outpost of the British indie producers’ trade body Pact launched at the Realscreen Summit in January, its stated aims were to represent the commercial interests of American producers as well as UK prodcos working Stateside.
Now that Pact U.S. has found its inaugural president, he has a message for American producers.
“This will be an American group, run by American members for American interests,” says David Lyle, who most recently served as the CEO of National Geographic Channels. “We have had a perception problem from day one because of the successful British nature of Pact. While its fundamentals, asset base, experience and expertise has been honed in Europe, what I’m about is using that experience, but making it American.”
Pact U.S.’s Los Angeles office opens this month and will represent indie producers working in all genres, including unscripted, and across linear TV and digital platforms.
As Lyle sets out to rally a U.S. membership, beginning with an invite-only meeting at Realscreen West, he is thinking that prime areas to explore include helping producers move efficiently between broadcast and digital windows, as well as the packaging of talent and ensuring content is marketed properly.
“I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about that,” he says about the latter. “Marketing or making people aware of your stuff is going to become as important as the production of your stuff, if you will.
“To some extent social media plays a part in that marketing but it’s increasingly part of content production itself.”
Thus, he intends to introduce American producers to the integral roles talent can play in producing and packaging shows, especially when it comes to multi-channel networks (MCNs).
Pact U.S. will also provide members with “behind the tent” intel and resources regarding best practices in production and employment, access to pro-bono legal and business advice, and will act as an industry voice when discussing such issues as tax rebate schemes with state legislators, for example.
When it comes to retaining intellectual property rights, Lyle hopes Pact U.S. can help producers when rights to a show are left sitting unexploited.
“I don’t for a minute think that we’re about to launch the Terms of Trade in the United States that exist in the United Kingdom,” he says. “My greatest frustration as both an ex-producer and as an ex-cable operator, are rights that are gobbled up and not exploited at all. More or less, that has dissipated, but I wouldn’t say it’s vanished.
There are still cases where rights can be locked up but not exploited by anyone.”
A day after launching the Pact U.S. site in May, half a dozen producers had already reached out.
In a year’s time, he hopes membership will be helping to focus and re-shape the organization’s aims to better reflect its point of view.
“I want to make it clear to the buying community that this isn’t a gathering of antagonistic or disgruntled people who want to group together to complain,” he maintains. “What we want to do is group together producers so they’re more efficient and so they can find better ways to sell to buyers.
“Better practices are going to be better for everyone: buyers and sellers, producers and broadcast companies.”
- This story first appeared in the May/June 2015 issue of realscreen magazine, which is out now. Not a subscriber? Click here for more information.