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Iacono says programming fund could be boosted again

ITV Worldwide will triple its fund for English-language program development and acquisition this year with an eye to boosting investment even further in the near future, president and managing director of ITV Worldwide Peter Iacono told TBIvision.

"Should it all work out, we can revisit the amount we are spending and we could triple it again," he said.

The new injection of cash is in addition to the £200 million war chest set up by ITV Global Content to buy stakes in production houses and forge joint ventures around the world. It was this fund that ITV Global Content used to purchase Swedish production company Silverback in May for £5.3 million.

The new fund will be used primarily to co-finance, gap-finance or acquire programmes with independent production companies from the UK, Canada and Australia, building on the success of recent deals such as last year’s deal between Granada International and Mammoth Screen, producer of ITV drama series Lost in Austen. Iacono stopped short of disclosing just how large the latest investment fund is, saying that that keeping it private will help ITV Worldwide secure the best value on deals.

ITV Worldwide set up the fund to expand relationships with production houses that may be more inclined to develop relationships with a distributor without divesting equity. The new fund will be used to fund general entertainment programs in genres such as comedy, drama, or magazine shows, Iacono said.

ITV Worldwide was created through the merger of Granada International and Granada Ventures. It aims to distribute the programs to third parties and to a number of yet-to-launch ITV-branded channels across the globe. It announced earlier this week that it wants to launch a pan-Asian channel and is currently previewing it to several Asian pay TV operators.

Iacono said ITV Worldwide was eyeing channel launches in other parts of the world, and that buying stakes foreign production companies is a possibility to provide local programming for these channels.