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UK indies seek dialogue with new Channel 5 owner Viacom

Independent producers in the UK are seeking to meet with top executives from new Channel 5 owner Viacom to discuss programming plans and build relationships.

JohnMcVay_NewUK indies trade body Pact yesterday issued a release that said the sector would seek to meet Viacom “very soon”.

The body noted indies had regularly met with Northern & Shell, Channel 5’s previous owner. However, some indies have privately complained about Northern & Shell’s tough terms of trade.

“I am sure indies will see Channel 5’s acquisition as an opportunity to do business with one of the world’s biggest media companies,” said Pact CEO John McVay. “Historically, Channel 5 has been the home for content from many of the UK’s independent production companies.

“We hope that we can start a positive dialogue with Viacom as soon as possible, in the same way that indies have worked so successfully with other UK public service broadcasters.”

New York-based Viacom, which owns Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV, acquired Channel 5 for £450 million (US$760 million) earlier this month, subject to regulatory rubberstamps. This made it the latest US media group to buy into the UK TV market.

Viacom expects Channel 5 will boost the group’s international programme sales and create a new pipeline of original content for other networks in the stable.

UK indies will seek to use Viacom’s ties to the US market to boost their own stateside business, Pact noted. “The US broadcasters are very familiar with British creative content and programming from UK indies has never been in greater demand from American interests.”

In related news, Channel 5 has commissioned UK indie Barcroft Productions and Shine International to produce OAPs Behaving Badly, which is a 1x60mins doc about pensioners who act anti-socially in Tenerife. Characters include a 74 year-old with a high sex drive, a granddad who has blown his family inheritance working at a bar and a grandmother who parties with friends half her age.

Guy Davies, commissioning editor, factual and features at Channel 5, said: “These entertaining and larger than life characters will capture viewers’ imagination and open their eyes to how some choose to spend their twilight years.”