Imports lose luster

United Kingdom

LONDON — As British commercial webs Channel 4 and Five signal a desire to become less reliant on imports, U.S. distributors can take heart that two top U.K. summer hits hail from American shores.

“Britain’s Got Talent,” based on “America’s Got Talent,” gave ITV1 a much-needed breakout hit, while cult sci-fi skein “Heroes” bowed on BBC2 to one of the channel’s biggest auds of the year.

“There is always a home for the right U.S. show on BBC2, and at the moment ‘Heroes’ is very definitely that show,” says BBC TV series acquisition topper Sue Deeks.

It is unclear how the latest round of government-forced coin constraints will impact Deeks’ budget. But having tied up the rights to season three and beyond of the NBC Universal smash, and with Showtime’s “The Tudors” and the Glenn Close legal thriller “Damages” on their way in the coming months, U.S. shows are back in vogue at the pubcaster.

“Mipcom tends to be more of a fact-finding market for us,” Deeks says. “We will be looking at any shows we didn’t see at the L.A. Screenings and meeting with European distributors to scout for foreign language series.”

Elsewhere, skepticism about imports is gaining traction . At August’s Edinburgh TV gabfest, Channel 4 topper Kevin Lygo said the broadcaster would be a mite more selective with its future purchases.

“We feel we need to spend less on acquired TV series,” he said. “The costs have spiraled, and the return is not as great as it used to be.”

“Channel 4 used to be the only place where you could see interesting shows from the U.S. … but yet another factor of the multichannel expansion is that all the smaller channels also buy U.S. programs.”

TOP 3

1. Coronation Street (ITV1)

2. EastEnders (BBC1)

3. The X-Factor (ITV1)

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