Two of the U.K.’s leading indie kids producers, SKD Media and Carrington Productions International (CPI), have joined forces to create a multimedia rights business called Entertainment Rights, which will make its market debut at NATPE this month.
Between them, SKD and CPI control about 100 hours of TV, including animated shows such as Budgie the Little Helicopter, Meeow and Gerry Anderson’s Lavender Castle. They also own the rights to classic U.K. puppet character Basil Brush. Valued at US$22.7 million, the deal has also generated US$21 million of city finance to back ER’s acquisition and production plans.
SKD chief executive Mike Heap will be CEO of the new business, while CPI’s Craig Hemmings will oversee the entity’s acquisition and production strategy. Jane Smith, who has worked in senior roles at HIT, Sunbow and Flextech, is to be managing director. She will oversee distribution of the existing rights portfolio and drive co-production negotiations. Robin Lyons, who founded SKD-owned studio Siriol, will also play a pivotal role as managing director of Siriol Productions.
According to Smith, the merging of forces was a necessity if the two companies were to compete effectively on the international stage. ‘By combining resources and raising capital, we are now in a position to expand the business quite quickly.’
Smith says a priority for ER is to ‘sweat’ its existing assets. Currently there are 39 episodes of Budgie, ‘which give us the opportunity to build a franchise,’ she says. ITV has commissioned 26 new episodes of Lavender Castle, taking the total to 52. There are also plans to develop TV spin-offs from CPI animated features such as Jack and the Beanstalk and The Snow Queen.
Smith says the city cash will allow the company to grow via acquisition and in-house development.