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Pubcaster SBS eyes foreign sales

Int'l sector relaunched after six-year hiatus

SYDNEY — Australia’s foreign-lingo pubcaster SBS relaunches its international sales division in October after a six-year break — tired of redirecting lucrative sales opportunities to an outside agent.

Erika Honey will oversee program rights and sales, Fiona Gilroy will rep sales from SBS’ Sydney HQ, with Mipcom 2003 set to be the first market outing.

Until then, Gilroy will boost the catalog with inhouse productions, co-productions and external fare.

It is a familiar task — she held the job until taking a career break to start a family six years ago. With Gilroy gone, SBS gave the work to Jenny Cornish Media, now merged with sales agency Beyond Intl.

However, SBS execs believe their catalog can be better exploited inhouse.

Honey says the decision was gradual. “We could see opportunities being passed on to someone else and thought we could do it ourselves.”

The catalog includes SBS-produced docs for the respected “Dateline” slot, such as the report on “Seeking Asylum.”

Gilroy also successfully bid for the SBS Intl./Australian Film Commission co-prod “Children of the Crocodile.”

She also is repping seven series of 13x30min. travelogue “Fork in the Road” and popular cult series “John Safran’s Music Jamboree.”

Gilroy says SBS’ library of under-six-minute interstitials has found a growing niche market of pay TV and pubcasters who want to fill programming gaps with something other than advertising.

Honey also oversees footage sales, nontheatrical and sell-through video and DVD sales and rights to product from SBS’ subtitling service.

SBS’ programming style straddles the middle ground between Australia’s pay TV and terrestrial broadcasters. The web, which ranks last of the five channels, offers programs in 68 languages and news and current affairs with a broad international slant.

Being a pubcaster, SBS is not driven by ratings, but unlike its larger cousin, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., it does take limited advertising.

Honey says program makers are becoming aware of the potential for international sales — after all, the revenue flows straight back to their programming division.

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