For Oz-U.S. TV deals, buck stops there

Australia’s top TV programming exex returned home recently from the L.A. Screenings victorious in their quest for all U.S. acquisitions to be made in Australian dollars.

The L.A. Screenings are a two-week event in which foreign buyers get their first look at upcoming U.S. TV programming.

They also managed to keep a lid on the going price for American fare: $ A20, 000 per hour ($ 13,500). This year they’ll pay only a minimal percentage increase on that figure.

Oz dollar deals have been in place for some years now, but output deals with such major studios as Disney, Warner Bros./Lorimar, and Columbia were in place previously and written in UMDIN.S.MDINdollars.

Most of these output deals expire this year, and in renewing them the Aussies have won the buck battle. With the Aussie dollar currently sagging at around 67 MDINcents, that’s vital to an industry looking to cut programming costs and increase its profitability after some very lean years.

WB, Nine standoff

Earlier this year there was a standoff between Warner Bros. (which funnels Lorimar product to the Seven Network) and the Nine Network over prices. While this was resolved a while back, Nine’s joint programming director John Stephens now confirms the deal is in Ozbucks and “effectively the same” as the going rate.

Same applies to Lorimar, notes programming director Glen Kinging. Unlike output deals, however, Seven isn’t locked into taking all of Lorimar’s new product.

At the L.A. Screenings, Nine also renewed with Columbia in Aussie dollars, Stephens said. And while Seven’s arrangements with Disney are yet to be disclosed, Kinging confirms it’ll be underwritten in local currency.

At the Ten Network, which has ongoing deals with MCA and Twentieth TV, newly installed chief exec Peter Viner told Daily Variety they’re both based on Australian dollars.

Neither of the nets will actually buy anything until later this year, after midseason replacements. Seven has 19 programs from Lorimar, and 17 renewals. Seven won’t say how many it’s obligated to take, but most renewals go through.

Nine has a similar number of series from Columbia and WB, while Ten has five new series and a dozen renewals from its suppliers.

Paramount is the only Hollywood major that doesn’t have an output deal with an Australian network, selling on the open market.