Endemol, HMG cozy up

Contract extended to 2006, prod'n spending will be lower

AMSTERDAM — Global production outfit Endemol and three-channel network Holland Media Group have finalized a new production deal following a lengthy and costly arbitration.

Execs are hailing the deal as ushering in a new era of peace between the two, which have been in and out of court for several years.

HMG and Endemol were disputing a 10-year, multimillion-dollar production agreement that began in 1995. The biggest point of contention was how much HMG spent annually on Endemol productions. Under the old agreement, HMG spent $74 million a year on Endemol programming. Production spend will be lower under the new deal, but the contract has been extended by a year to 2006.

Endemol and HMG have crossed swords on issues ranging from contract dispute to breach of contract to copyright infringement. Much of the bickering can be traced back to HMG’s decision to step up inhouse production and move into third-party production — a direct challenge to Endemol’s dominance in the territory.

Shows like “Idols” and “The Weakest Link” that might previously have been made by Endemol are now produced by HMG.

Endemol once had a similarly lucrative production deal with Germany’s RTL, a sister web to HMG under the aegis of the Europe-wide RTL Group. That agreement was not renewed although Endemol still licenses programming to the German commercial web.