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TVNZ drops BBC deal, lets others in

Territory report: New Zealand

AUCKLAND — Kiwis’ approach to buying British looks set for a makeover at Mipcom this year.

TVNZ recently dropped its long-running output deal with the BBC. For the first time since the late 1980s, all Kiwi players have open season on Beeb programming.

The two-channel pubcaster will be hoping its hunch is right — that it is the only significant buyer in this market and that it can make savings from a discarded deal that cost $2 million a year.

Meantime, head of content Stephen Smith will be looking for arts docs to meet cultural obligations under its new public service charter. After six months, the charter has not diminished TVNZ’s 60% market share.

CanWest’s TV3 programmer Kelly Martin doubts she will be picking up any slack on the Brit fare.

TV3 is mainly oriented to American product from its Fox, Universal and Paramount deals and is targeted at the 18-49 demo. “But we’ve been skewing a little older lately and we want to bring it back to that,” says Martin.

Elsewhere, CanWest-owned sister channel TV4 has morphed into a free-to-air music channel.

Australian Nine Network’s Barry Cowling programs Prime TV, which has a 5% market share, from Sydney and will be buying for both channels at Mipcom.

Satcaster Sky TV won’t be at Mipcom, but CEO John Fellet perked up when he heard TVNZ had loosened its grip on Beeb product.

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