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Granada co-prods aim for Brit tastes

ITV station Granada Television, which was among the British pioneers of international co-production, has signaled a new policy toward foreign partnership that puts more emphasis on the tastes of British audiences.

Charles Allen, Granada TV’s chief exec, outlined the strategy, titled “Co-production Without Compromise,” at the Monte Carlo TV market yesterday.

He said that in the past few months, Granada had taken an honest look at its past successes and failures in the co-production field, and concluded that it had to be more discriminating in its approach.

“We learned a lot of painful lessons,” added David Liddiment, Granada’s program chief. “But ultimately I think this means we’ll be able to deliver productions with an international relationship behind them on a more consistent basis.”

Liddiment explained that under its new policy, Granada would in future focus on “the needs of the ITV schedule,” no longer developing projects specifically with international co-production in mind.

“Most ITV and BBC ratings are delivered by domestic programs,” he observed.

As a result, Granada is currently pitching a slate of telefilms to ITV with a strong emphasis on British content and talent, and without significant international finance.

This contrasts withthe policy of other ITV producers, such as Scottish TV, who are offering the web more expensive telefilm projects designed for co-production. Scottish’s projects are budgeted at $ 3 million to $ 5 million apiece, whereas Granada’s are priced nearer $ 1.5 million.

Another series that will not be co-produced despite initial interest from a U.S. network is Granada’s new sitcom “The House of Windsor,” set among the servants of the Royal household. “The Americans signed onto the notion, but in our heads we were each seeing different things,” Liddiment explained.

In recent years, Granada has had a regular and relatively successful co-production relationship with Home Box Office, and a rather less fruitful link with CBS.

Three years ago it announced a major co-production joint venture with Germany’s NDR and France’s Hachette that never produced a program, although the company did co-operate on some projects with NDR alone.

“Co-production is a dangerous road to go down if you’re simply driven by the economic attractiveness of it,” said Liddiment. “We must see a clear domestic imperative for the piece and then work out from that.”

Nonetheless, he insisted this did not mean Granada was pulling back from production partnerships with foreign broadcasters.

But future deals would be based more rigorously on “mutual self-interest” rather than creative compromise, he explained.

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