Broadcasters step into indie shoes

With costs going up, licensing fees going down, and networks asking for more rights such as VOD and mobile, it's
April 1, 2006

With costs going up, licensing fees going down, and networks asking for more rights such as VOD and mobile, it’s

getting harder for independent producers to foresee an ultimate payoff. So, following Nerd Corps president Ken Faier’s question posed during the Leader’s Forum at our KidScreen Summit, we asked our panel of international broadcasters to put themselves in their partners’ shoes. How would they handle the negotiation phase in this challenging climate as an independent producer?

Terry Kalagian

VP of acquisitions and co-productions,

Cartoon Network

The reality is we all have to be much more creative in how we put together productions. As unlikely as it seems, there is an upside for independent producers. Since so many broadcasters are involved in multi-partner co-productions, there are more independent projects getting produced. All of the partners have to be much more collaborative than they’ve been in the past and the buy-in happens earlier on in the process. I would say this is the opposite of being a ‘service provider’; in this process, producers are partners. Everyone, including broadcasters, is trying to be more flexible and creative in coming up with scenarios that will get projects funded.

Beathe Anita Daae

head of children’s programming, TV2 Norway

To keep independents alive, broadcasters and other license holders must not squeeze prices down to nothing. When this happens, the result is small independent producers go bankrupt and broadcasters then face a monopoly of two or three major producers. We, the broadcasters, must think long term, not only short term or short money. If I was an independent producer I would tell the broadcasters that quality costs, it has long life, and channels with the best content win. But as a producer with all rights, I would also be aware that revenue sharing is a consequence of revenue building.

Deirdre Brennan

ABC Kids programmer, ABC Australia

As a public broadcaster, we acquire programming based on the quality of the content not the commercial potential, but we also need to understand that many producers have to pursue rights exploitation to actually fund the production. My advice would be to retain as many rights as possible, even if they are not necessarily on the negotiation table – they could be highly valuable in a few years time!

Chris Rose

acquisitions coordinator, BBC

A cross-platform proposition has more chance of engaging with the audiences as they begin to receive children’s content on an increasing number of devices. As an indie, I’d look to exploit the brand across alternative media to complement those of the broadcaster, such as comic books, downloadable audio files and specially produced extra footage.

Julien Borde head of purchasing for youth department, France 3

If I were a producer I would follow simple and easy rules to prepare my negotiations:

- Do not forget to mention kids and their expected reactions to the show during pitching sessions. Include research phases in development

- Never give scheduling lessons to the broadcasters, they usually are very proud of the way they manage their grids!

- Be clear on what you really need from the broadcaster and be clear on what rights you are going to provide

- Clearly define what influence the broadcaster will have on the show. Propose a real partnership in the development but be strong on the final cut

- Work with the broadcaster to define the best strategy to build a franchise and ensure the licensing plan is consistent with your property

- Always inform the broadcaster on the evolution of your international financing plan

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