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ABC fishes for preschool pitches with lure of new funding initiative

Hoping to cast its net as wide as possible to find new preschool programming, ABC Australia is taking a more proactive approach, issuing an industry-wide request for show proposals under its new The Children's Special Television Project initiative. It's only the second time the pubnet has sent out an RFP like this for children's projects. This time around, ABC has earmarked about US$3.8 million in funding via a mix of cash, resources and access to the net's facilities to support the production of one or more winning projects.
February 1, 2006

Hoping to cast its net as wide as possible to find new preschool programming, ABC Australia is taking a more proactive approach, issuing an industry-wide request for show proposals under its new The Children’s Special Television Project initiative. It’s only the second time the pubnet has sent out an RFP like this for children’s projects. This time around, ABC has earmarked about US$3.8 million in funding via a mix of cash, resources and access to the net’s facilities to support the production of one or more winning projects.

Martin Robertson, manager of productions for ABC Consumer Publishing & Content Sales at ABC Enterprises, says posting an RFP versus using traditional commissioning methods promotes an easier way to simultaneously compare ideas. ‘Which removes, to some extent, the luck of timing that often comes into play when decisions about committing funding to a program (or not) are made,’ he says.

Robertson hopes at the very least to match the 100 or so submissions the net received in 2004, and expects the majority of them to find their way to ABC in the two-to-three weeks prior to the February 28th deadline. A shortlist of potential co-production teams will be finalized by the end of March with a view to meeting the possible partners at either the Sydney or Melbourne ABC offices or at MIPTV.

The first time ABC put out the call, London, England’s Snow River Media and Aussie outfit Buster Dandy Productions caught the net’s eye with preschool-targeted Five Minutes More. The series is slated for delivery in Q3 2006, and is already presold to Disney in the U.K., Europe and the Middle East. Robertson says global saleability is a major factor in choosing the winning project. In fact, preschool’s international marketability is one of the reasons the net targeted the genre. Beyond that, a production company submitting an application should be aware of ABC’s current schedule and how its project fits the net’s needs.

And while ABC does plan to greenlight more RFPs under this initiative in the future, Robertson says the frequency will largely depend on the international sales success of Five Minutes More and the show (or shows) picked up this time around.

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