The Australian government has announced an increase in film funding of AUS$92.7 million (US$48 million) through 2006, as well as tax breaks for large film productions. The goals for the new package are to increase production and develop new technologies.
In California, Promark Entertainment has launched a non-fiction division that will focus on the production, distribution and acquisition of docs for the U.S. and abroad.
ZDF Enterprises will launch its new archival website later this month, providing surfers access to some of the 300,000 programs in the pubcaster’s vault. The site can be found at //www.zdf-archive.com
In the U.S., Starz Encore will soon debut a new strand called ‘Reel Stories’, a monthly slot for docs that will premiere with Barbara Kopple’s (Wild Man Blues) American Dream.
The Sundance Film Festival has set September 28 as the deadline for doc entries.
The Fox/SBS production partnership now has a name: Legato. The new company will be based in the Netherlands, and is charged with the task of creating hit, cost-effective programming.
London’s Zone Vision is expanding its Reality TV service to 24-hours throughout all territories as of the beginning of September.
Deutsche Telekom has completed the sale of six regional channels to AT&T’s Liberty Media in a deal worth almost US$5 billion. The deal makes Liberty Germany’s largest cable company, with access to 10 million households.
The U.K.’s NTL has launched into Ireland as Go Digital, initially serving 140,000 households in Dublin, Galway and Waterford.
Pat Ferns and his Market Simulation is making a new stop in Amman, Jordan. The Market Sim will take place during the Souk Uzak, an international cultural market, and will offer Arab and other producers the opportunity to pitch their work to the buyers and financiers in attendance. Look for the Market Sim to also stop in Sithengi (South Africa), Cape Town, and Singapore.
In the U.S., The Travel Channel has picked up the second window on a new NBC reality series called Lost. Each episode will premiere on the network on Sundays and air on the cable outlet the following Friday. Lost drops pairs of adventurers somewhere on the globe, with the first pair making it to the Statue of Liberty named as winners.
In Germany, UPCtv is launching two new channels to be carried by PrimaCom: Club (women’s issues) and 24/7 (style, design and visual arts).
AOL Time Warner and News Corp might be closer to permission to broadcast into China after recent talks with the Chinese government. Although no official deal is in the works, suggestions have it that one could see the broadcasters carrying Chinese programming and channels abroad in exchange for a pass into the lucrative and largely untapped market.
In the U.S., CBS has greenlit a one-hour Survivor special that will run a week before the third series kicks off. While the exact nature of the special is still uncertain (other than it’s a grab at prolonging the successful series by another week), the hour is being handled internally by CBS News Productions.
The recent death of singer/actress Aaliyah has pushed the sequel to The Matrix – The Matrix Reloaded – back to 2003. Warner Bros. hopes to keep interest high, however, with a 150-minute doc on the making of the movie and the sequels. The Matrix Revisited will be out on DVD and video at the end of November.
A kinder, gentler Dodo Cheng Ye-ling has helped propel The Weakest Link to the top of the ratings chart in Hong Kong. The show hadn’t been as successful when it followed the BBC format to the letter, including the harsh approach that has made U.K. host Anne Robinson internationally famous.
According to Reuters, there is still hope for some of Brazil’s toughest criminal element. After watching a doc on the plight of Brazil’s homeless, the 800 inmates of a maximum security prison in Rio de Janeiro have decided to donate their lunches once a month to the homeless. Over 660lbs of food have already been raised for the Rio Food Bank.