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Extra: VA Media hires unscripted director; Love Nature’s FAST launch in Spain

VA Media taps Hannah Barnes for director role Content network VA Media announced the appointment of veteran entertainment media executive Hannah Barnes (pictured) to the newly-created position of director of unscripted content. Barnes ...
August 12, 2021

VA Media taps Hannah Barnes for director role

Content network VA Media announced the appointment of veteran entertainment media executive Hannah Barnes (pictured) to the newly-created position of director of unscripted content.

Barnes will begin her role based in VA Media’s Sydney office on August 23, reporting directly to CEO Mark Ashbridge. She’ll be tasked with building out VA Media’s expanding roster of unscripted YouTube channels, as well as identifying opportunities for VA to create and commission original content. Barnes brings deep expertise as both a commissioner and programmer, having worked with UK and Australian broadcasters like Sky UK, BBC, Channel 5 and Optus Sport. She was also group general manager of Foxtel’s Lifestyle channels.

Barnes’ appointment comes as VA Media prepares to add several new brands to its stable of YouTube channels, including the unscripted comedy channel Crack Up, slated to launch later this month.

“I’m thrilled to have someone with Hannah’s expertise come on board  to lead the way in creating original content for our growing network channels and clients,” Ashbridge said in a release.

Added Barnes: “This is a pivotal time for VA Media and I look forward to contributing to that growth. Creating and identifying great content is what I love to do and I can’t wait to get  started.”

Love Nature launches on Samsung TV Plus in Spain

Wildlife and nature channel Love Nature is premiering as a free, ad-supported streaming channel (FAST) on Samsung TV Plus in Spain.

The deal makes Love Nature the first natural history brand on Samsung TV Plus in the country, and brings more than 100 hours of localized free content. The deal was brokered by Julio Sobral, Love Nature’s SVP, Latam & U.S. channel distribution, and expands on Love Nature’s launch earlier this year as a FAST channel in the U.S. market.

“Partnering with Samsung TV Plus to launch Love Nature as a FAST channel is an important step in expanding our reach as a multi-platform channel brand in EMEA,” said Carlyn Staudt, Love Nature’s global GM, in a release. “We’ve seen tremendous success for Love Nature on FAST and AVOD channels in the U.S. market and we know that audiences in Spain will also love our curated programming line-up of stunning wildlife and nature content on Samsung TV Plus’ highly accessible, free-of-charge platform.”

Changes to TVF International team

Indie documentary distributor TVF International has announced a pair of promotions among senior management.

Lindsey Ayotte has been promoted to the position of head of strategic development and will take over running TVF International. She will also handle sales with North American and UK clients.

Additionally, Will Stapley has been promoted to head of acquisitions and partnerships, where he will focus on building exclusive content partnerships in the production, broadcast and distribution sectors as well as bringing new copro opportunities to TVF Productions. Stapley will lead a team of five acquisitions executives based out of the company’s London office.

TVF International also hired a pair of new executives, with Colette Webber and Daniyal Bari joining the company in junior sales roles.

“The TVF International team are fiercely proud of our independent status and unparalleled track record in the factual genre, and I’m thrilled to be leading such a talented group of execs,” Ayotte said in a release. “As we wrap up another record-breaking year, I look forward to continuing our growth trajectory by focusing on co-financing opportunities and our robust digital strategy, always with an eye to supporting other fellow indies.”

The personnel moves come following the announcement that company director Harriet Armston-Clarke is stepping down after four years in the role.

WFTN names new head of development

Australian indie prodco WTFN has announced the hiring of Stephen Peters as the company’s new head of development.

Peters, who had been working with WTFN for almost a year as a contracted consultant, will be responsible for expanding the company’s development slate by creating more returning documentary and access series, like the popular Paramedics and Bondi Vet, as well as branching out into fresh new factual genres.

Prior to joining WTFN, Peters worked with a number of Australia’s top TV broadcasters and providers, executive producing series like True Medical, Inside Crime and Australian Survivor, as well as stints at Eyeworks as head of television and Fremantle Media, where he oversaw production of the first series of Australian Idol. During his consultancy at WTFN Peters was executive producer on observational series Sydney Harbour Force, which is being produced for Discovery Australia, New Zealand and UK.

“Stephen has made a significant contribution to WTFN over the past few months, so we are delighted to have him onboard as a permanent member of the senior team. Our expansion and increased output in the past year is testament to a talented and dedicated team but now, with Stephen adding his tremendous experience, and charged with increasing our content pipeline, we are hoping to turbo-charge this growth trajectory and bring more hours and even more fresh new programme ideas to the market,” said WTFN CEO Daryl Talbot in a release.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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