France 5 commits 7 million euros to programming; NHK on the hunt for partners for $5 million doc project; AAC Fact International looks for feature docs
October 10, 2002

France 5 (formerly La Cinquieme) has been keen to show its commitment to coproductions. This week, the French pubcaster signed an agreement with Japan’s NHK to collaborate on copros over the next three years. Projects on their slate include: Eurasian Empires: Paths to Civilization, Miracle Planet II – The Evolution of Our World and some episodes of Project Antarctic 2003. France 5 has committed to spending 7 million Euros (US$6.9 million) on 130 hours of primarily factual programming.

One of NHK’s goals this MIPCOM was to find additional copro partners for Project Antarctic 2003, a $5 million undertaking which will see a team of five NHK staffers move to the South Pole for 16 months and film in HD. The team will build a satellite dish and studio to allow for live HD transmissions. In addition, they will produce four or five docs (60 to 90 minutes each). Copro partners already on board (in addition to France 5) are China’s CCTV, the Korean Broadcasting Service and Boston, U.S. public channel WGBH.

NHK also cemented a partnership with Alexandria, U.S.-based PBS for high definition television programming. The two pubcasters will coproduce five HDTV programs a year, in a variety of genres, during the three-year agreement. Production costs and rights will be shared on a program-by-program basis.

AAC Fact International, the London, U.K.-based distrib unit of Toronto, Canada’s AAC Fact, signed on Germany’s Spiegel TV and London prodco West Park as copro partners for Norwegian Brides, a one-hour one-off that is now in the works. AAC Fact International also scouted the market for more feature docs and indicated a deal was signed, though no specifics had been revealed as RealScreen Plus was published. The company’s interest in feature docs follows its distribution success with Michael Moore‘s Bowling for Columbine and Stacey Peralta‘s Dogtown and Z Boys.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Geographic Film Library and Australian pubcaster ABC inked a deal to represent each other’s catalogues in their respective markets, which for Nat Geo includes both North and South America, and for ABC includes Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. National Geographic also announced a three-year deal that sees 120 of its DVD titles distributed in Indonesia by Tarra Group‘s Kings Medialine unit.

U.S. pub channel Thirteen/WNET and Carlton International (the distribution arm of the U.K. media conglom) have partnered to produce Innovation, a technology series consisting of eight one-hour one-offs. WNET and Carlton will work jointly to identify the subjects to pursue and the producers who will make the films.

French-German pubcaster ARTE disclosed plans to strengthen distribution of its product worldwide. On the documentary side, ARTE is managing 1,500 hours of film.

Also unveiled at MIPCOM were the nominations for the 30th International Emmy Awards. In the documentary category, the nominees include Offspring, produced by Toronto Canada’s Barna-Alper Productions and CBC Television; City Slickers: A Tale of Two African Penguins produced by New Orlean’s U.S.-based Pelican Pictures and Off The Fence, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Decision at Age 18 – Israeli Youths Refuse to Fight, by Japan’s NHK and Nicolas Winton – The Power of Good, produced by WIP and Trigon Productions in the Slovak Republic. The awards will be handed out on November 25 in New York, U.S.

U.K. prodco Granada has threatened to counter sue the company that makes Survivor over its plans, rolled out at MIPCOM, to make a celebrity version of the hit reality TV show, reports The Guardian. Granada is already facing a lawsuit from London-based Castaway Productions, which is claiming Granada’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! closely copies Survivor. Castaway’s Celebrity Survivor is being marketed as a charity event.

BBC Worldwide, the main commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation, signed more than £5 million (US$7.8 million) in coproduction and licensing agreements in Cannes. On the factual front, German public broadcaster NDR has agreed to coproduce the history documentary Pyramid and the three-part series Monsters We Met. ZDF, also of Germany, will co-produce Human Hunter and The Race for Everest. (Monsters We Met and Pyramid are now three-way copros among the Beeb, NDR and Discovery Channel.)

More news from MIPCOM to follow next week.

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