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Warners inks pacts in Belgium, Finland

VMM, MTV deals involve 'Matrix,' 'Smallville,' others

HOLLYWOOD — Despite the traditional August slowdown in Europe, Warner Bros. has managed to ink two long-term output deals worth tens of millions of dollars in two separate territories.

The deals suggest that despite the current popularity of locally made shows across Europe, major stations there still need to secure a regular pipeline of product from the top U.S. suppliers.

One deal is with Belgium commercial broadcaster Vlaamse Media Maatschappij. It’s a four-year output deal for the Hollywood studio’s product in the Flemish-speaking part of the country.

That deal was unveiled late last week by Warner Bros. Intl. TV prexy Jeffrey Schlesinger and Luc Janssens, head of acquisitions for VMM.

The terms of the deal involve rights to movies released between 1999 and 2002, including “Eyes Wide Shut,” “The Matrix,” “The Perfect Storm” and “You’ve Got Mail.” It also involves renewals of TV series airing on VTM and Kanaal 2, including “ER,” “La Femme Nikita,” “The West Wing” and “The Sopranos,” and upcoming series “Smallville,” “Citizen Baines” and “Maybe It’s Me.”

The deal in Belgium, which also covers animation as well as library material, was negotiated on behalf of WBIT by Mickie Steinmann, the studio’s sales director in Scandinavia and Benelux.

“Our product has always done well on VTM and Kanaal 2,” Steinmann pointed out.

Said VMM’s Janssens: “The Vlaamse Media Maatschappij keeps on investing in American series and movies. It has been and will continue to be our goal to bring the newest top series and films as soon as possible to the Flemish part of Belgium.”

Growing Finns

Meanwhile, over in Finland, Warners’ Steinmann put finishing touches last week on a three-year output deal with Finnish commercial station MTV Television.

The terms of that deal involve basic cable TV rights to upcoming Warner Bros. TV series, including “Smallville,” “Citizen Baines” and “Maybe It’s Me.” Deal also involves movies from the 1998, 1999 and 2000 slates (including “The Matrix,” “Deep Blue Sea,” “Three Kings” and “City of Angels”) and an extensive film library package.

Series and feature films acquired under this agreement can air on MTV 3, MTV Finland’s primary channel or on its secondary channel SubTV.

“Warner Bros.’ wide variety of series and feature films allows us to offer our viewers the best quality entertainment available,” said Mervi Rouvinen, the broadcaster’s head of foreign program acquisitions.

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