S4C International, the commercial arm of Welsh pubcaster S4C, is launching a new initiative called The Factual Strategy Group. Led by Huw Walters and backed by £8 million (US$11.7 million), the initiative will offer tenders for programs consisting of at least three or four one-hour episodes, with potential for international sales. (For more details see the Nov./Dec. issue of RealScreen.)
ABC in the U.S. will launch America ’01, a news magazine show, this Friday night to fill the timeslot recently vacated by The Mole 2: The Next Betrayal. America ’01 will focus on the changes in the U.S. following the September 11 terrorist attacks. ABC pulled The Mole due to poor ratings, but says it will relaunch the series mid-season (see RealScreen Plus October 17).
The BBC is merging BBC World (the pubcaster’s international news and information TV channel) and BBC World Service (its radio broadcasting counterpart) into a single, integrated international news and info division. Mark Byford assumes the position of director, World Service and Global News.
MTV Networks has cut 450 jobs – about nine percent of its staff – in response to the current economic climate.
Indonesian terrestrial channel TPI will air a two-hour block of Discovery Channel programming seven days a week, beginning on November 5. The arrangement is the result of a contract between TPI and Discovery Networks Asia, which runs to the end of 2003.
In the U.K., two new government funds have been established to promote docs filmed in and about developing countries. The funds are worth £600,000 (US$878,000) in total.
Match TV, a television channel inspired by popular magazine Paris Match, will launch on December 10 on CanalSatellite in France. The channel, the brainchild of Paris-based Lagardere Active, will focus on three broad themes: people, news and lifestyle. Formats will include docs, news magazine shows and talk shows.
In France, the budget for the Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC), which redistributes funds (derived from taxes) to French independent producers, will rise 2.26% next year to US$439 million.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded 14 U.S. film festivals with cash grants amounting to US$250,000 in total. Among the recipients are the New York Film Festival, which will receive $30,000; San Francisco International Asian Film Festival, $20,000; Outfest: The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, $15,000; and the Washington (D.C.) Jewish Film Festival, $10,000.
According to a report in The New York Times, General Motors has agreed to sell its Hughes Electronics unit – which includes pay television provider DirecTV – to Echostar Communications, pending government approval. For U.S. consumers living in areas without access to cable, the deal means they will now have only one choice for pay-TV – Echostar’s Dish Network.
Italy’s government has vetoed the sale of 49% of Raiway, a subsidiary of Italian pubcaster RAI, to U.S. company Crown Castle International Corp.
The Food Network will now be seen on Singapore’s Channel 5 in the form of a one-hour weekday block that will reach 800,000 viewers.
Southern Star has announced a profit improvement over last year, thanks mostly to better than expected sales and favorable interest and foreign exchange rates.
The ITN archive has a new online look. Go to //www.itnarchive.com to check it out.
NATPE is laying off six of its support staff. NATPE President and CEO Bruce Johansen says the move is ‘related to the fact that we’re going through a very tough economy.’ Nine major syndicators have decided not to rent out floor space at the January convention in Las Vegas.
Contrary to some published reports, the new anti-terrorism bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives won’t lead to a Big Brother-like presence in Americans’ living rooms, according to Mark O. Smith, a spokesperson for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. The new bill seeks to streamline cable and non-cable records (including telephone and Internet), allowing law enforcers easier access to customers’ records. However, Smith notes that law enforcers must still have a court order to access any of these records.
The Geminis, Canada’s version of the Emmy awards, were recently handed out in Toronto, Canada. Among the non-fiction winners: Best Doc Series: Canada: A People’s History (producers Mark Starowicz, Hubert Gendron, Gordon Henderson); Best History/Biography Documentary: My Left Breast (producer Paul Pope); Best Science, Technology, Nature, Environment or Adventure Program: Nuclear Dynamite (producers Gary Mancuse, Betsy Carson, Selwyn Jacob). The Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program went to Breakaway: A tale of two survivors (producers Matthew Welsh, Johanna Eliot, Johanna Lunn Montgomery.