CNN International has received the green light from parent company, Time Warner, to spend us$5-6 million on documentaries commissioned from the independent sector over the next three years. In the first stage of the strategy, cnni will commit us$1.5 million to documentary singles and series in 1998.
The move is part of cnni’s efforts to regionalize its programming output – a strategy being overseen by Chris Cramer who was promoted to president of the network last week. Initially, the main hunt for programming will focus on Europe.
One of the cornerstones of the new investment plan is Perspectives, launched on January 2. Handled by head of CNN Productions, Pat Mitchell, the strand will feature a one-hour film each month from either the cnn stable or the independent sector. The series is a sign of cnni’s intent to establish branded program formats on its service.
Cramer, who is already talking to a number of indies, says, ‘I want independent productions to be the backbone of the Perspectives series. There is a wealth of talent and production knowledge in the international arena that I want to tap into. During the early part of this year, I will be in Europe hunting for new and fresh programming for the network.’
Forthcoming films in the strand include Exile Productions’ Exile in Sarajevo, made by Bosnians, Tahil Cambis and Alma Sahbaz, and Gerrie and Louise, by Canadian Sturla Gunnarsson. Another strand, artclub, is already being produced for cnni by artv in London.
Also in Upfront:
-Discovery goes local with new Eastern European producer fund
-WGBH launches distribution arm.