Disgruntled Cloud 9 exits New Zealand

Pubcaster sez fare does not fit with local content sked

AUCKLAND — U.K. production outfit Cloud 9 is quitting its New Zealand production base, blaming pubcaster TVNZ for not buying its shows.

Cloud 9 makes family and kids fare for terrestrial and cable, and sold to Encore’s Wam kids channel in the U.S.

Managing director Ray Thompson said financing is tough without Kiwi broadcaster support and describes TVNZ as “arrogant and monopolistic,” for buying just one series in nine years. That series was the religious drama “Revelations,” which screened at 3 a.m. on Sundays.

The pubcaster said Cloud 9’s output does not fit with its local content schedules.

Thompson said TVNZ’s refusal to back $8 million drama “Leader of the Pack” with identifiably Kiwi locales was the last straw.

Cloud 9 is likely to move from Wellington to Oz, and Thompson said he is in talks with Oz broadcasters for production funding.

Cloud 9 is owned by Thompson and publicly listed U.K. entertainment company Sanctuary and has spent about $NZ130 million ($74.35 million) on production during nine years in New Zealand. Shows include “Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson,” “Enid Blyton Secret Series” and “William Shatner’s a Twist in the Tale.” Highest profile success has been with a post-apocalyptic kids/teen drama “The Tribe,” co-produced with U.K.’s Five. But it didn’t shine with Kiwi auds.