Eye on the world

CBS Intl., Virgin link for global programming

CBS Broadcast Intl., the worldwide TV unit of CBS Television, and Virgin Century Television, the new international TV production and distribution arm of the Virgin Group, have launched an alliance for programming to the global marketplace.

Under this nonexclusive agreement, both companies will have mutual, first-look opportunities to develop, produce and distribute properties controlled by either party, including programs, formats and events. It’s the first such arrangement for either party, and no money changed hands in setting up the venture.

The partnership will be managed by Virgin Century Television chief executive Jeremy Fox and Rainer Siek, president of CBS Broadcast Intl.

In effect, Virgin Century TV will act as a rights broker for indie producers in Europe that might otherwise not know how to break into the U.S. industry. And Virgin Century TV also will be able to sift through all of CBS’ programs and projects in development to see if there are ways to format or rescript them for the foreign market, or in other cases, to bring in foreign money for co-production.

Euro vision

“In some respects we’ll be the eyes and ears of CBS in Europe,” Fox told Daily Variety. Fox, who is London-based, will be on the CBS Intl. stand during the Mipcom TV trade show in Cannes, which opens Friday.

Another reason for the alliance with Virgin may be that its brand name and programming appeal to a young demographic — an audience segment that CBS is making a concerted effort to attract these days.

The partnership was unveiled Tuesday by Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson and CBS Television president Leslie Moonves.