As AAC Kids waits with bated breath for the CRTC, Canada’s broadcast regulator, to pass or fail parentco Alliance Atlantis’ application for a BBC Kids digital channel, newly appointed VP of television distribution Ken Faier remains realistic about the impact this development would have. ‘The digital channel will have a really small subscription base in Canada, so it’ll be difficult to use it as a draw for triggering new production,’ he muses. ‘We’ll still need to get a bigger cable broadcaster for new shows.’ However, Faier adds that a digital outlet would provide an important forum for AAC Kids library fare and acquisitions. ‘We’d gain some leverage in terms of picking up shows because we’d be able to place them right away,’ he says.
Since the CRTC is not expected to render its decision until later this month, Faier has turned his focus towards the more immediate goal of finding international berths for AAC Kids library fare. ‘In merging the Alliance and Atlantis catalogs, we ended up with between 45 and 50 projects that are available for sale-some of which are A-level and some of which are not,’ he says. ‘My job now is to sift through these shows and find opportunities for them abroad.’ He adds that ‘in terms of distributing AAC Kids product, all the international territories are underdeveloped because the division, for all intents and purposes, is still in start-up mode.’
Start-up mode or not, AAC Kids has been quite active since its inception a year ago. In May, the division inked a US$75-million co-development deal with Germany’s TV-Loonland for 27 new TV series over three years. In addition to managing this television production relationship, Faier will be working with TV-L to co-create a wide-sweeping interactive plan for the new tube projects. ‘We’ve both agreed to put some monies towards developing a portal type of web plan,’ says Faier. ‘For each property, we’re looking to have a separate new media strategy, but we’ll also take elements from each series and build a consumer-directed portal together.’ Serving as the guinea pig for the first phase of this new media development model, the second season of AAC Kids show I Was a Sixth Grade Alien launched on Fox Family Channel this summer with an iTV component and companion website that subscribers to Microsoft TV, WebTV, LiberateTV and OpenTV can access.
Prior to his appointment at AAC Kids, Faier served as
executive VP and publishing director for Brunico