Associated Press Television News (APTN) has been designated the ‘preferred provider’ of archive video footage to Discovery Communications, Inc. (DCI) in a long-term agreement that was announced in September. Under this deal, producers for any DCI production or coproduction will be able to choose stock from APTN ‘s library of news and entertainment video at ‘substantial’ discounts, with better rates for high volume use. APTN ‘s library contains footage from most major news events of the past century, as well as cinematic newsreels that date back to 1900.
According to Dara Altman, executive vice president of business affairs for Discovery, APTN first approached DCI in late 2001. Before entering into negotiations, a team from DCI’s business affairs and production management departments consulted their internal and external producers to find out which vendors they found the most accommodating and efficient.
‘The basic concept and pricing points were agreed to fairly quickly,’ says Altman. ‘Developing the business model and finalizing the paperwork took about four months.’
What does APTN get out of this arrangement? Good exposure, says Christopher O’Hearn, APTN ‘s head of content development. ‘Discovery is a huge player in the worldwide production market,’ he says. ‘This deal puts us in front of all the people who are working with and for them.’ The Associated Press’s reputation as ‘the world’s oldest and largest’ newswire service extends to its international TV arm, but along with that comes a slightly stodgy image. Says O’Hearn, ‘A lot of people think of us as suppliers of archival war footage. While we do have a lot of that, we have a lot of material in other areas as well – entertainment, biography, material from around the world – so it’s a chance to spread the word.’
Although this is not the first time that APTN has entered into such an arrangement (they have a similar partnership with Toronto, Canada-based Alliance Atlantis Communications), what is unique is the sophisticated pricing model that will be used to adjust the rates according to usage. ‘This agreement is a good thing for DCI and its producers as it eliminates the need for time-consuming annual negotiations for stock-footage pricing,’ says Altman.