Dutch SBS nets ink hefty output deal

NBC, P'Gram TV, BBC, others sign p'gramming pact

AMSTERDAM — In the latest strike in an all-out programming war on the Dutch media landscape, SBS channels SBS6 and Net5 have finalized multimillion dollar output deals with NBC Enterprises, Polygram Television Intl., Carlton Television, the BBC and Endemol Entertainment.

The NBC deal includes all of the programming generated by the U.S. network’s production arm over the next two years. “Will & Grace” and “Providence” are among the clutch of titles, along with telepics and such miniseries as “Atomic Train,” starring Rob Lowe.

The Polygram Television Intl. pact covers all theatrical releases for 1998 and 1999, among them “A Life Less Ordinary,” “Boogie Nights,” “What Dreams May Come” and “Arlington Road.” The pact also throws in items from the back catalog, including such titles as “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”: and “JFK,” as well as some TV event programming, such as “Cirque du Soleil.”

The flurry of deals comes in the wake of the launch of Net5, SBS Broadcasting’s second Dutch channel, which ups the ante in the heated battle among the three major commercial forces in Holland. SBS6 and Net5 are in one corner; Holland Media Group’s three channels in another; and the recently launched Fox channel, in yet another.

“It gives both SBS6 and Net5 the quality television programming needed to build audience” in this kind of competitive climate, said Bart Soepnel, director of program acquisitions for both channels.

The pact with Carlton includes a first-year option for some 300 hours of TV programming produced by Carlton each year, including miniseries such as “The Waiting Time” and “Renard,” starring John Thaw. The deal will also give SBS6 and Net5 factual and docu programming as well as titles from the Carlton movie library, including “Under Suspicion” starring Liam Neeson and “The Fourth Protocol,” starring Pierce Brosnan.

The BBC deal covers such docu-soap series as “Jailbirds and Life Support,” comedy series “Gimme Gimme Gimme” and miniseries such as “The Dark Room.” Among the Endemol titles is the four-hour miniseries “Joan of Arc,” set to air on the CBS Network beginning this Sunday.