News in Brief

Corbis takes over Sekani; BBC Worldwide Library Sales cuts a deal with CBS News; bin Laden interview divides CNN and Al-Jazeera.
February 7, 2002

American stock footage company Sekani has been wholly acquired by Corbis, the Seattle-based stills giant backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Sekani, which was formed in 2000 through the union of FootageNow and the Second Line Search companies (Second Line Search, Hots Shots Cool Cuts, Action Sports Adventure and Film Bank), had been jointly owned by a venture capital group, internet services company iXL and Corbis. Rick Wysocki, a former exec for The Image Bank (owned by rival Getty), has been named Corbis’ VP of moving images.

BBC Worldwide Library Sales has struck a deal with CBS News to become the exclusive global sales agent for all of the latter’s footage. CBS News has covered international events over the past 50 years and has close to a million hours of content.

The London-based ITN Archive has opened a new office in Johannesburg, South Africa. In addition, ITN has added new Africa-related material to its collection through its relationship with Reuters. The new footage offers comprehensive coverage of African history, politics, environment and culture.

CNN‘s news-sharing deal with Qatar-based Al-Jazeera has been called into question after CNN’s decision to broadcast an interview with Osama bin Laden that Al-Jazeera recorded in October, but never aired. CNN alleges that the satcaster suppressed the footage, while Al-Jazeera counters that CNN failed to respect its wishes. Neither side has officially confirmed that their deal is off, though Al-Jazeera initially indicated that outcome was likely.

According to a report in The New York Times, U.S. broadcaster CBS has acquired the rights to video footage shot inside the World Trade Center on September 11 by French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet. CBS will use the material, which has never been shown on TV, to make a two-hour doc special, airing on March 10. At the insistence of the Naudets, the program will help promote the Uniformed Firefighters Association Scholarship Fund. The brothers had been following a New York firefighter for a film about a recruit’s first days on the job when the towers were attacked.

According to a report in BBC News, U.K. cable company NTL has finally acknowledged its financial woes and appointed Credit Suisse First Boston, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley to help restructure its £12 million (US$17 million) debt.

Sorious Samura and London-based prodco Insight News Television have selected U.K. producer/distributor Mercury Media to represent their doc trilogy on Sierra Leone (Exodus, Cry Freetown and Return to Freetown).

Toronto-based distributor Octapixx Worldwide recently announced a strategic alliance with U.S.-based Carlton Entertainment, which will see Octapixx handle broadcast distribution of Carlton’s catalog in Canada, and Carlton return the favor for Octapixx in the U.S.

South African rock star Dave Matthews has agreed to use his record label – ATO Records – to release the soundtrack to AMANDLA! a revolution in four-part harmony (Lee Hirsch). The doc recently won both the Audience Award and the Freedom of Expression Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

Discovery Network Latin America/Iberia says Animal Planet is now distributed to more than 10 million subscriber households throughout the region.

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