44 Col pix head to London’s Channel 5

With no chance to bid, rival ITV angered

LONDON — Channel 5 has agreed to a £14 million ($20 million) feature film programming deal with Columbia TriStar Intl. Television, including the U.K. terrestrial debuts of “Erin Brockovich,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Patriot,” “Hollow Man,” “Snatch,” “The 6th Day” and “Vertical Limit.”

44-pic deal, C5’s biggest buy from Columbia TriStar, angered rival ITV, which was not given the opportunity to bid for the package. ITV, Britain’s biggest commercial web, will boycott Columbia TriStar’s screenings in L.A. next week in protest.

Additionally, C5 has picked up Columbia TriStar’s reality TV series, “Eco-Challenge.”

Meanwhile, Jeff Ford, C5’s controller of acquisitions, is being upped to the new post of director of acquisitions as a reward for his efforts.

Four-year-old C5, co-owned by RTL Group (65%) and United Busi-ness Media (35%), has been particularly aggressive in its purchases lately. RTL is keen to shift the channel into the mainstream and has allocated extra cash for C5’s 2001 programming budget. C5 holds a 5.5% TV viewing share in the U.K.

(Steve Clarke in London contributed to this report.)

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