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Alliance, TV Loonland plan joint ventures

MONTREAL — Canuck film and TV company Alliance Atlantis Communications will unveil today an output and co-production deal with Munich-based kids producer-distributor TV Loonland to co-finance live-action and animated kids programming.

The German company will kick in C$110 million ($76 million) over the next three years to sub-distribute or co-produce up to nine children’s series, with TV Loonland taking Euro rights to the shows and Alliance Atlantis keeping all other world rights.

In addition, TV Loonland has paid $14 million for Euro rights to shows from AAC’s children’s library, including “The Famous Jett Jackson,” “My Best Friend Is an Alien” and “Yvon of the Yukon.”

The agreement marks a significant expansion for Alliance Atlantis Kids, which launched last year.

Children’s programming accounted for 20% of the parent company’s production output last year.

Alliance Atlantis CEO Michael MacMillan said he expects the company to focus even more on kids shows in the next couple of years.

High priority

“Gearing up our animation and kids business is a priority for us,” MacMillan said. “This gives us a huge increase in our kids business. It’s a very significant transaction for the company.”

Added TV Loonland CEO Peter Volkle: “Alliance Atlantis will be a strong partner in North America who will help us to grow considerably and to decisively expand our international position.”

As part of the agreement, Alliance Atlantis and TV Loonland will both invest in the development of a Web portal to house Web sites for all jointly produced programs.

While Alliance Atlantis is intent on expanding its kids business, MacMillan denied media reports that his company is in talks to acquire troubled Canadian kids-TV producer Cinar.

“Cinar has got great programming ability and a terrific-looking library, but we’re not aware it’s for sale,” MacMillan said.

“We’re not in there kicking the tires. If there was an auction of the assets, of course we’d look at that. But it would be really difficult (to buy the entire company). It’s an unknowable situation and we don’t like unknowable situations.”

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