Exclusive Canadian distribution deal inked

MONTREAL – Canadian TV producer and distributor Atlantis Communications announced Wednesday that it has inked a deal with CBS Broadcast Intl. to exclusively distribute in Canada all current and upcoming shows controlled by the CBS subsidiary.

The deal, effective March 1, 1997, will include properties associated with CBS Prods. and Eyemark Entertainment, including series, specials, and sports and information programming, and could generate sales in the range of $10 million.

Atlantis will take over from CBS Broadcast Intl. Canada Ltd., which previously distributed the product in Canada. The Canadian CBS subsid will continue to operate under the stewardship of David McLaughlin, and will handle CBS’ non-distribution activities in Canada, including overseeing any CBS productions filmed in the Great White North.

McLaughlin will also work closely with Atlantis Releasing, the distribution arm of Atlantis Communications.

In the past, Atlantis has primarily focused on distributing its own drama series and telefilms, and the CBS agreement marks a major increase in Atlantis’ distribution influence in Canada. “The significance would really be in the increased exposure and the ability to service our Canadian clients in a broader, more diverse way,” said Lewis Rose, executive vice president of Atlantis. “It will be one-stop shopping, which is better for the broadcaster. CBS is among the top three networks in the U.S., so the properties we’ll get access to are among the best in the world.”

Executives at both Atlantis and CBS noted that the two companies have had a longstanding relationship. Atlantis recently produced two CBS Broadcast Intl. productions, “The Twilight Zone” series and the telepic “The Man in the Attic.” In addition, the Atlantis syndicated series “Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal” is distributed in the U.S. by Eyemark Entertainment, a division of CBS.

“We feel very comfortable with them,” said Rainer Siek, president of CBS Broadcast Intl. “We thought we should link up with a producer as well-established as Atlantis. There are synergies that we may want to use. I think it could help our product to have it with a Canadian producer. You never have a better ‘in’ with a broadcaster than when you’re with a local producer.”

The CBS programming that falls under the terms of the agreement includes “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” “Caroline in the City,” “Dave’s World,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours.”

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