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Granada pulls back from Cosgrove sale
March 1, 2003

Granada pulls back from Cosgrove sale

Facing a market short on acquisition-minded studios, Granada has opted to take Cosgrove Hall off the auction block after a year of trying to sell the Manchester-based toon house. Like many studios around the globe, Cosgrove (the studio that brought Dangermouse and Duckula to the small screen) has struggled to cope with a downturn in the production business.

Granada, which picked up 75% of Cosgrove when it purchased all of United Media’s TV assets in 2000, would ideally like to retain a minority stake in the 26-year-old company, says director of drama, children’s, features and arts John Whiston. Clouding Cosgrove’s future, however, is a pending merger between Granada and Carlton, which, if approved in the next couple of years, could further delay any sale.

In the meantime, Granada will closely monitor the performance of Cosgrove’s new productions, which include hit series Engie Benjy! The stop-motion/CGI preschool show, which debuted on CiTV last year in a 3:40 p.m. time slot, nabbed a 41% share with two- to five-year-olds between September and December 2002. CiTV is expected to commission another 26 x 10-minute order, which would improve Cosgrove’s chances of securing a U.S. broadcast sale for the series, says managing director Iain Pelling. The company also has two commissioned series in production – Little Robots for BBC/Create TV, and an unnamed project. SC

Aussie group calls for ban on junk food ads

Australian kidcasters may soon have to wean themselves off fast food – or at least the ad revenue that comes from that sector. Hoping to reverse the country’s ballooning child obesity rates – 25% of the nation’s kids are currently considered obese or overweight – the Dietitian Association of Australia has called for the creation of a government-led advisory group that would regulate all food commercials that appear during peak kid viewing times.

Under the proposal, only ads for healthy, low-fat foods such as breads, cereals, fruits and vegetables would be permitted to air when most kids are watching. The Association’s request adds to a growing chorus of voices Down Under that are demanding the Australian government take steps to fight the public health problem.

Last May, doctors’ organization The Australian Divisions of General Practice called for a ban on junk food commercials between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. A federal government task force is currently assessing strategies to combat child obesity, and will reportedly be reviewing the Dietician Association’s recommendations.

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