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Pay TV Is Gradually Entering Oz Equation

Production companies here are benefiting from the upsurge in overseas production but have yet to see huge gains from pay TV, which is gradually rolling out on microwave, satellite and cable.

“There are too many deck chairs rearranging themselves in pay TV at the moment. There is not that much studio work and only some post-production work,” says Global Television special projects manager Mai Tennent. “When they get into full flight there will be a fair market for outside broadcasts and post-production and studio spinoffs.”

Or to put it another way, “pay TV is too young,” as a spokesman from facilities house AAV Australia said.

Nevertheless, the AAV group has had dealings with Galaxy, the first pay TV operator. Its Melbourne studio was leased to Axis Films for a linkup in the inaugural broadcast using the fiber optic capabilities of the facility. AAV’s Sydney operation Apocalypse also has done some work for Galaxy and is servicing another pay operator.

But the main beneficiary of the introduction of pay TV Down Under to date has been small Sydney-based production company Daylight Prods., which designed the inaugural on-air promotions and station IDs for Galaxy’s Premier Sports Network (PSN).

The 10 10-second IDs and 10 five-second promotions were written, directed and designed by Daylight’s Mitch McManus, who also will work on an upcoming 20-spot winter on-air promotional campaign.

“The idea was always to seasonally update the IDs and promotions because the ban on advertising (on pay services) until 1997 meant they will have higher usage than a commercial channel.”

The AAV group meanwhile, has been busy with large amounts of local and international post-production work, including “Muriel’s Wedding” and several TV series. Apocalypse has just completed post-production on a Barron Films/Nine Network telefilm called “Singapore Sling” starring John Waters, which is set for international distribution and airs on the Nine Network later this year. It also post-produced “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” as well as many Australian TV programs.

Melbourne-based Iloura Post Production was kept busy with international television commercials and corporate video work as well as a flurry of natural history documentaries for Oz’s ABC, most of which have had international release.

AAV Brisbane meanwhile, worked on the new Seven Network action series “Fire.”

Spectrum Films had a good year despite the temporary absence of managing director Hans Pomeranz due to illness. It has post-produced 14 feature films including Gillian Armstrong’s Columbia TriStar pic “Little Women,” Jane Campion’s “The Piano,” Bill Bennett’s “Spider & Rose,” Geoff Burton’s and Kevin Dowling’s “The Sum of Us” and Peter Weir’s “Fearless.”

One of the largest independent facility providers, Global Television furnished studio services for Britain’s Thames Television (a “This is Your Life” special) and broadcast facilities for NHK Japan (a spaceship linkup beamed live to Japan), as well as post-production services for Southern Star’s black comedy feature “Mushrooms” and work for all commercial networks Down Under.

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