Dutch seek interactive elements

NPS exec: Web-linked programming for younger auds

AMSTERDAM – If you are selling pay TV windows or programming that has an Internet component, get ready to sign on the dotted line: the Dutch are hitting the Croisette.

Buyers from the territory that spawned such formats as “Big Brother” and “The Bus” are now in full tracking mode for interactive programming with Web synergy potential.

Even highbrow Dutch pubcaster NPS is gearing up to broadcast the BBC’s 10-episode drama series “Attachments,” which comes complete with an online companion.

“We’re seeing Web-linked programming as an important development for the television industry, and it brings in a younger audience as well,” notes NPS head of acquisitions Frank Peijnenburg.

Frans-Jan Punt, director of programming for Fox Kids Europe’s Dutch feed on Fox 8, will also be Net focused: “We’ll be keeping an eye on traditional series but we’ll be looking at them from a new angle: Can they link up to the Web?”

Fox Kids aims to eventually have web components to all its shows. “It may not have an interactive link,” Punt says. “But there must be the possibility of giving it one. ‘Pokemon’ is a good example; it has at least 2,000 connected Web sites.”

Patty Geneste, president- owner of Absolutely Independent, a company that specializes in representing formats and format creators, points to a new breed of product with not only simple interactive links but also highly sophisticated crossover programming, especially in the gameshow area, in which viewers at home “are an essential component” to the program.

If interactive is not your bag as yet, there are plenty of buyers around for traditional programming, and one of them is Amsterdam-based UPCtv, which has launched some eight channels across 19 territories in Europe and Israel.

UPCtv buyers are expected to be doing some fancy footwork at markets in order to fill their programming bill, notes acquisitions executive Leila Trainor. “We need 500 hours annually per channel.”

If you are vending alternative lifestyle, one of the channels at the top of Trainor’s shopping list is Innergy, the new human potential outlet that plans a lineup of programming on such topics as feng shui, yoga, organic cooking and alternative healing.

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