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Buena Vista inks big bucks film deal with BBC

LONDON — Buena Vista Intl. Television has inked a multimillion-dollar movie package deal with the BBC, giving the U.K. pubcaster broadcast rights to hit Brit comedy “Calendar Girls” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” among others.

Major studio deal is the first the BBC has struck since negotiations stalled after the corporation scrapped its encryption arrangement with satcaster BSkyB.

The Beeb switched to another digital satellite, which broadcasts its services unencrypted, in July.

This angered U.S. studios concerned that viewers in Europe could see their films and series, contravening territory rights deals. The BBC, however, insists that few people outside the U.K. can watch their programs because the satellite has a tightly focused footprint across Europe.

A BBC spokesman said that the concerns had been addressed as part of the deal, but that no financial settlement has been made to compensate Disney for possible loss of revenue in other countries.

The BBC has exclusive U.K. terrestrial TV rights to a package of over 100 of pics from Walt Disney, Touchstone and Miramax Films. The BBC is due to start airing the pics from the end of 2004.

‘Chicago,’ ‘Hours’ included

Pics include “Chicago,” “The Hours” and the upcoming “Cold Mountain,” starring Jude Law and Nicole Kidman. Library titles include “The English Patient” and Hitchcock classic “Rebecca.”

Buena Vista’s Tom Toumazis, senior VP and managing director Europe, Middle East and Asia, and BBC controller of acquisitions George McGhee negotiated the agreement. Both declined to put a figure on the value of the deal.

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