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Formats buyers out as Sony closes office

Sony Pictures Television is closing its formats acquisition department, axing well-known buyers Lisette van Diepen and Eric Kafoe, and shutting its Netherlands office in the process, TBI has learned.

The two staffers and a third team member, an assistant, will leave as part of the closure, which comes as Sony takes a different approach in terms of formats.

Lisette van Diepen is vice president, acquisitions, and Eric Kafoe director of acquisitions.

TBI broke the news yesterday, and Sony confirmed the changes.

“In light of changes in the global television market, we are re-focusing our portfolio towards scripted content,” it said. “As a result, we no longer require a formats acquisition team, and will instead work with format creators and broadcasters earlier in the development process.

“We are grateful for the contribution the team has made to the business under Lisette Van Diepen’s leadership, and wish them all the best for the future.”

The Amsterdam-based team had overseen the buying of third-party formats and had, for example, picked up The Voice for Italy where The Voice of Italy is produced for Rai by SPT prodco Toro.

SPT will now concentrate on generating formats through its own prodcos and its early stage development with broadcasters such as S4C in Wales and Nippon TV in Japan. It also has a central development unit, which is run by Sarah Edwards.

Sony is understood to have re-thought its approach to third party formats in light of a perceived lack of top-quality third party product out there.

There is also an increased focus on scripted within Sony as drama remain the in-demand genre around the world.

The format sales effort, headed by Jane Dockery, is unaffected by the changes.

The Dutch office was formerly a substantial base as the HQ for twowaytraffic. SPT now has no physical presence in the Netherlands.