In yet another sign that Asia is playing an important part in the future of factual television programming, National Geographic Channels International will open a Singapore-based global production office in the first quarter of 2004.
‘More and more we find the shows produced locally are really resonating with audiences,’ says David Haslingden, NGCI’s CEO. ‘As our business model evolves, it’s not a bad thing to be producing programming in the Asian region that is on the Asian networks…or also airs on networks around the world,’ he continues.
The Singapore office, backed by a US$4 million production deal with the Singapore Economic Development Board (which also supports Discovery Networks Asia’s operations in the city-state), will act as a ‘hub’ facility that coordinates Nat Geo productions in Australia, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and India. It will be headed by Bryan Smith – currently NGCI’s executive VP, programming and production at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. His title will truncate slightly, to executive VP, production, but he will remain a senior person within the company. Haslingden says a search is under way for an exec VP, content, for the Washington office; he expects to name Smith’s replacement by the end of the year.
Separately, NGCI is launching a website in November for the submission of program proposals. Found at //ngcideas.com, the site will represent a single point of contact for all doc ideas, and filter the volume of pitches by forcing applicants – who must provide extensive details of their company and project – to meet minimum submission requirements, explains senior production coordinator Elise Kirk. ‘It will reduce the one-paragraph concepts that we get thrown at us. A lot of times, people will contact us with an idea, but they are not able to execute. This makes the producer do a bit of research to come up with the elements that are needed to submit a realistic proposal,’ she says.
Each complete submission will be given a record locator number that producers can use to track their pitches. Producers must revisit the site from time to time to find out its status. By January, the cablecaster will only accept proposals via the website.