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Advertising group pix up rights in multipartner longform deal

Television Production Partners, a consortium of 10 major national advertisers formed to produce and own TV programming, has inked a substantial telefilm deal with the Paramount TV Group, Fox Broadcasting Co. and Twentieth TV.

The agreement follows a likeminded pact between Paramount and Procter & Gamble, who in March announced a “strategic alliance” to develop series for the networks and firstrun syndication. It also represents a move by several advertisers to secure an ownership stake in programming, going beyond just buying time within the shows.

Under the three-year deal, Paramount will produce movies for TPP, which in turn made a separate first-look deal with Fox Broadcasting to air the telefilms. The latter agreement includes an option under which Fox-affiliated companies may develop and produce movies for TPP.

Paramount and Twentieth TV would distribute the movies produced by their studios. TPP will fund production in exchange for a share of the revenues and guaranteed sponsorship positions within the programs. The network airing the movies won’t pay a conventional license fee and retains a portion of the ad inventory to sell.

The parties are targeting their first production for early next year and want to produce a “holiday perennial” for late 1996. The goal is said to be anywhere from two to five movies per year.

TPP principal David Houle said the production companies will come up with concepts but that the venture obviously would look for family projects with solid appeal in key demographics. “We’re not going to get mayhem, blood and guts and stories about abortion,” he added, referring to general advertiser resistance to such controversial topics.

Houle’s partner, Jack Myers, credited Paramount with “stepping out of the box” in order to take the lead in “building relationships between the Hollywood community” and advertisers.

Participating advertisers in TPP are AT& T, Campbell Soup, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Coors Brewing, General Motors, MasterCard Intl., McDonald’s Corp., Reebok Intl. and Sears Merchandise Group. The venture already has been involved in three specials that aired earlier this year: “The World Music Awards” and “Frankenstein: The Untold Story,” which both aired on ABC, and TBS’ “Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream.” Myers said TPP expects to announce additional deals shortly along the same lines.

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