LONDON: Carlton Television’s international program distribution arm, CTE, has taken control of all of Carlton’s licensing and merchandising activities, which, until now, have resided within the business affairs department.
According to CTE managing director Rupert Dilnott-Cooper, there are two key rationales for the move. The first is to increase coordination between the various areas of program-related exploitation for the 9,000-hour catalogue.
The second is to ensure that CTE is maximizing the potential of the non-Carlton programming that it represents. ‘As a business that deals in acquisition of programming rights, we desperately need to analyze the potential upside across a whole range of media,’ he says. ‘That is particularly true in animation, where there are large amounts of deficit.’
Under the new structure, Sian Facer and Charlie Donaldson will remain in charge of the licensing operation though will now report to CTE finance director William Meddlicott.
Dilnott-Cooper stresses that the reorganization is ‘not a signal that the licensing division has got it wrong so far. It is simply a widening of the pool for them. Until now, they have only been concerned with Carlton programming.’ Particular successes have included Tots TV, which has spun off into 175 product lines and Potamus Park, which was reformatted as a comic and audio tape.
Despite Dilnott-Cooper’s emphasis on pre-production forecasts of ancillary revenue, he says that CTE will not be taking financial gambles on the hypothetical returns from licensing. However, closer links will ensure that elementary mistakes are not made. ‘I don’t want us to be in a situation where we get to the fourth series of a popular piece of animation only for someone to tell us that we might have had a licensing hit if there wasn’t a pig in it. If we invest £1 million in a series, I want to know what the potential upside might be.’
Neither does the new structure suggest an intention to start planning licensing strategies at a much earlier stage, as might happen at the BBC. ‘The BBC has a great advantage with a series like Teletubbies that it can guarantee hundreds of episodes,’ says Dilnott-Cooper. ‘With the short commissions we get from ITV in the U.K., you have to wait some time before you have enough volume or awareness to make a licensing hit like Tots TV. The key is ensuring that when we have a success we are ready for it.’
Approximately half of CTE’s television business is done with companies outside Carlton. However, Dilnott-Cooper doesn’t expect CTE to start pressuring independent companies to hand over their multimedia rights as a matter of course. ‘We might like to acquire them, but if they already have a third-party relationship with another agency, we will at least have the resources to analyze the potential of a series.’
In a separate development, CTE is to be rebranded as Carlton International. The new name will become effective as of MIP-TV.