Duo team to beef up trade in factual content

In what is claimed to be the first deal of its kind, FremantleMedia Enterprises, the distribution arm of the production powerhouse, and Chinese shingle Asian Union are setting up a joint venture to beef up trade in Chinese factual content.

Asian Union’s Liu Xiao Lin will be chairman of the new entity, Vision Ventures Media. FME veep of sales for Asia Ganesh Rajaram will sit on the board and be responsible for the programming relationship between the two parties.

Partners hope their tie-up, unveiled at the Mip TV programming market on Tuesday, will serve as a conduit for factual shows between China and the rest of the world and involve local producers and international partners on co-productions.

First fruit of the deal is the programming block Vision, which bowed in China in January. It airs reversioned FME fare such as “World at War,” “Hitler’s Bodyguard,” “Black Gold” and “Arctic Exposure With Nigel Marven.”

The joint venture intends to use FME’s distribution expertise and Asian Union’s experience to develop and finance projects from Chinese broadcasters and producers.

Suitable Chinese programs will be adapted for the international market and distributed by FME.

FME shows have been distributed in China for seven years, but the joint venture will allow its business to expand further.

“Although tape distribution was successful in China, we didn’t think we could grow,” said FME chief exec David Ellender. “VVM allows us to get closer and understand the Chinese market, and gives us a basis for building relations.”

VVM hopes to have program blocks on 20 TV stations in China by the end of the year. It’s also developing a documentary, “What Makes China Tick,” with China Education Television.

Liu, Asia Union’s executive director and prexy, said, “We’re confident that the partnership will result in some ground-breaking factual programs and new relationships as the Chinese broadcast and production market takes its place on the world stage.”

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