BBC inks S. Africa vid pact

South African film distributor Nu Metro Monday announced it had signed a deal with BBC Enterprises for South African distribution rights to BBCE’s video product. BBC Enterprises is the marketing arm of the British Broadcasting Corp.

The three-year deal, covering sell-through and rental, follows the Nov. 9 decision by British actor’s union Equity to lift its 17-year-old ban on the sale of British television programs to South Africa.

The first titles, due for pre-Christmas release, will be “FawltyTowers, “”Blackadder” and “Only Fools and Horses.”

Meanwhile, BBC Enterprises, Monday announced a grace period for South African video pirates until Dec. 15. In a statement issued here through Nu Metro, the company said the Southern Africa Film and Video Security Office would, after that date, begin cracking down on those contravening copyright laws.

Video pirates have had free reign with BBC material in South Africa because of a ban imposed in 1976 by British actor’s union Equity on the sale of British television programs to South Africa. Because of the ban, the BBC and other British production companies were not able to register the copyright of their programs in South Africa, and therefore could not prosecute offenders.

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